Talk:Ballpoint pen

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March 2013 Revision[edit]

Revisions done in several stages now complete, overall. Remaining questions for which I ask assistance/advice:

  • Price of the ballpoint at Gimbel's debut? Sources show conflicting prices, and, if an actual price will remain in the article at all, it may be interesting to note it as the "at the time" price with a "todays price" maybe in parenthesis for comparison? IF price is necessary at all (I think it should be included).
  • There are still statements for which I show no sources, BUT: they are all statements which I believe to be matters of common knowledge, included to round-out the facts. Some of those are remnants of article content prior to this revision. Comments or suggestions are welcome!
  • The "Standards" section exists here as it did prior to my revision because I'm no expert, BUT: it lacks an explanation/outline as to WHAT the "standards" actually delineate. Anyone with the expertise to provide such an explanation/outline?/underline

---Not sure how to do this without making statements that rely on my own specific expertise. The standards define the size, shape, capacity and materials required to make ballpoint refills work worldwide across manufacturers, and to make pens able to accept universal refills. --bobzchemist — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bobzchemist (talkcontribs) 15:14, 27 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]

  • I took interest in policing this wiki because I noticed it to be a target of regular vandalism (which seems to have subsided), but I wonder IF: now that a definitive version of this wiki is in place, maybe it should be locked? Just a thoughts.

Anyone else out there care to weigh-in with some input? I hope I managed to provide a well-balanced, informative wiki! Thanks. Penwatchdog (talk) 05:26, 6 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

re: recent changes by "Viana arts" about Samuel Silva[edit]

First of all: conflict of interest: Viana Arts is Samuel Silva's website/host. Second: this page's "as art medium" section is only a part of the main focus of this page: Ballpoint pens. Space for mention of ballpoints as Art Medium is only very limited here, and limited to those artists with proven contributions to the medium (and even Juan Francisco Casas is currently under question). With all due respect to Mr. Silva's work, he is neither the first nor the sole ballpoint proponent to successfully undertake photorealistic imagery in ballpoint pen, neither black&white nor full-color. Mr. Silva's work was simply the most recent of a spate of otherwise uninformed reportage of ballpoint artwork which went "viral" in recent years. James Mylne and Juan Francisco Casas have done at least that much, years before. A search of Lennie Mace shows years of full-color portraiture of a much finer degree, with mainstream sources reporting such accomplishments decades ago. Should Mr. Silva stand the test-of-time and continue to refine his talents, his name may be considered here. Otherwise, Mr. Silva was recently included (by ME) in the list of artists at the main/full Ballpoint pen artwork article, which pays more attention to the minutiae of the medium than is required here at the Ballpoint Pen page. Mr. Silva, if you please, DO make contact with me here (and upload an art sample i can insert?) and i'll be happy to open a line of communication with you, sincerely: Penwatchdog (talk) 12:39, 7 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

zero gravity[edit]

Normal ballpoint pens will write in zero gravity, see for example Pedro Duque's diary:

I am writing these notes in the Soyuz with a cheap ballpoint pen. Why is that important? As it happens, I've been working in space programmes for seventeen years, eleven of these as an astronaut, and I've always believed, because that is what I've always been told, that normal ballpoint pens don't work in space.
During my first flight I took with me one of those very expensive ballpoint pens with a pressure ink cartridge, the same as the other Shuttle astronauts. But the other day I was with my Soyuz instructor and I saw he was preparing the books for the flight, and he was attaching a ballpoint pen with a string for us to write once we were in orbit. Seeing my astonishment, he told me the Russians have always used ballpoint pens in space.
So I also took one of our ballpoint pens, courtesy of the European Space Agency (just in case Russian ballpoint pens are special), and here I am, it doesn't stop working and it doesn't 'spit' or anything. Ssscienccce (talk) 18:45, 21 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Replied to Ssscienccce TALK; personally intending to work the above information into the article, as time permits, unless someone else wishes to run with it. Good contribution to update the article! Penwatchdog (talk) 14:52, 8 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Opaque tubes[edit]

Mention that some manufacturers choose to use opaque tubes so the user cannot easily determine how much ink comes with the pen or remains or is wasted sticking to the sides of the tube. Jidanni (talk) 05:28, 5 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Ballpoint pen in the media (humor)[edit]

Ernest Goes To Jail Ballpoint pen scene Jidanni (talk) 05:39, 5 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]

  • In reply to both above suggestions by Jidanni: for now I'd simply say, first of all, that neither of the above constitute encyclopedic content. Second of all, it comes down to reliable source material anyway. If anything, your prior suggestion (tube) is more worthy than the latter (Ernest), but where's the source material? Even given that, mention of the tubes would still only merit maybe one sentence within the Types section or the Manufacture section. As for a new "in the media" section: I'm personally not a fan of all that pop-culture mumbo jumbo though I know of plenty of instances more than "Ernest" (Kubrick's "2001" floating space pen, et al); better for blog material or facebook fan page than Wikipedia. You're welcome to attempt contributing such a section here, but harsher monitors of this page than I would probably not let it last more than a week here without a concrete plan, proper sourcing and full fleshing-out prior to addition (i.e. two examples as noted here don't quite constitute a full/new section). General dis-interest also limits my support otherwise. Cheers/best. Penwatchdog (talk) 14:44, 8 December 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Unwarranted edits to clearly documented periods of time[edit]

I haven't been able to spend time with this article since my major overhaul of 2013, but I check from time to time. I noticed one glaring editorial mistake left dangling from someone's recent edit(s), and I deleted it until someone can figure out how it ended up that way and correct it properly. And I have a point to make... WHY all of the unnecessary, ongoing edits made to very clearly defined aspects of BYGONE ballpoint history?? I noticed it now, and made this one deletion (11/5/15), but I know of others. See if you can find them. I know these TALK pages are often bypassed by spur-of-the-moment editors but I make notes here anyway because that's the way it should be. Transparency.

As I see it, the only reason to make any edits to the Ballpoint Pen article would be to clarify existing content, edit for grammar, or add any NEW occurrences in the ballpoint world. In case anyone hasn't noticed, this article is rated HIGH-importance. This demands greater scrutiny to edits than the average wikipedia page. And yet, as I found, there was the nonsensical sentence left "live" for at least a few weeks as far as I can tell. How can such a glaring example of poor editing be missed?? If I could, I would simply reset the article to the version which existed after my 2013 revision, only because that would at least return the article to a sensible state which had gone factually unchallenged for many months thereafter. Then slowly began the barrage of edits which can best be described as too-many-cooks-in-the-the-kitchen but No-Head-Chef. None of the edits made between now and then added anything of importance to the record. In fact, it would seem that valid information was little by little altered or/then deleted.

To anyone REALLY interested in contributing, this article is in dire need of revisions documenting advancements in INKS. I'm no pro in that area, but I do know that there ARE such advancements. Vast amounts of colors are available to consumers and I'm sure publicity/documentation exists to those caring to spend the time and make sense of it for readers. White ballpoint pens. Metallic ink pens. Gel inks. Those are the kinds of edits this article needs; not any more extrapolation about J.J. Loud or Lazlo Biro or foundation-level edits of things which happened prior to 1950. I'd like to proudly declare that I handled all of those relevant details in the 2013 revamp, many of which have been systematically, unnecessarily tweaked for whatever reason. Penwatchdog (talk) 08:58, 5 November 2015 (UTC)[reply]

I'm going to try to revise this article a bit again, as time permits. I will try my best to document all the additions and revisions I make, most likely by referring back to US and worldwide patents. I'd appreciate any help from someone who's more versed in Wikipedia matters about whether or not US patent illustrations are in the public domain. If they are, I will add a few that I think would be helpful. I am an expert in ballpoint ink formulations, having worked on them for several years while employed by one of the major manufacturers. Please feel free to call me out if I interject my own POV, or rely on my own expertise, especially since some of what I know isn't publically documented anywhere. Bobzchemist (talk) 14:35, 27 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]

As Art Medium[edit]

Can someone -- Penwatchdog perhaps? -- please explain to me the meaning of this statement: "ballpoint pens allow for sharp lines not as effectively executed using a brush" ?? Among other things, what does "allow for" mean here? Thanks, gpeterw (talk) 12:08, 24 December 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Gpeterw: Are you really the only person in however many years since its inclusion to not get that phrase? You're making someone look silly needing an actual explanation because, first of all, what about it are you just not getting? "Allow the user to achieve sharp lines..." or "allow for the creation of sharp lines..." should be easy enough. "Not as effectively executed using a brush" isn't about sending brushes to the electric chair. If you feel you've got a smoother way to execute that statement, feel free to run it by us here. Penwatchdog (talk) 16:46, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Open ended reservoirs[edit]

In the section on the Space Pen, it says that "Unlike standard ballpoints, the rear end of a Space Pen's pressurized reservoir is sealed, eliminating evaporation and leakage". I know most disposable pens come with a cheap, clear plastic tube that acts as a reservoir and is open on the non-writing end, but most of the mid-grade refillable pens I've ever used, like Zebras and Parkers, come with metal-cased ink cartridges with the end capped off by black plastic. Are these just "closed off" as opposed to sealed? Just curious.AnnaGoFast (talk) 04:54, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

  • Your interest and input is welcome and appreciated but, in my opinion, that question is firstly best directed to "Space pen" wikipedia page editors, who may be able to answer your detailed question with greater accuracy more relevant to that page than this one. Still, having received or uncovered any explanation, it may only require minimal mention/editing here as "encyclopedic" content relating to this page, and/but you are surely welcome to make that correction here if you can provide the reliable source otherwise editors here may delete the inaccuracy altogether. Penwatchdog (talk) 12:00, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]


I see that someone has been insisting that John Loud invented the ballpoint pen. I think that this is at least partially untrue. Loud invented a device specifically intended for marking leather. Biro invented a device specifically for writing on paper, and solved the very significant problems that had kept ball point pens from being manufactured commercially. While Biro may not have been the first person to come up with the concept of using a ball to apply ink to a surface, he was without a doubt the person who came up with the idea that using a ball to apply ink on paper would be an advantage over existing technology, and who then went on and invented solutions to all of the problems involved with getting the pen to first work, and then be manufacturable. The documentation of this is extensive, and irrefutable. It is unknown whether or not Biro knew of Loud's prior patented invention. I think it would be appropriate to change this back to listing Biro as the inventor, while mentioning Loud as one of the notable precursors to Biro. He wasn't the only one, either, but I'm not sure if anyone else is notable enough.

In order to avoid any controversy, I'd like to have a discussion on the talk page first, before any changes are made.

Bobzchemist (talk) 15:09, 27 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]

There is no controversy. Loud invented the first ballpoint pen. Period. Half a century later Biro significantly improved it to become a commercial success. This does not change the fact that Loud was the first registered inventor. By the way, your statement about the patent "specifically intended for marking leather" is false. Staszek Lem (talk) 23:44, 27 March 2017 (UTC)[reply]

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To the best of my knowledge, the term 'biro' is not used in the U.S. Besides Britain, what other countries use this term? (talk) 00:59, 16 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Hungary? Argentina? France? AFAIK, it's widespread across Europe. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:53, 16 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
"Biro" is unknown either in France or in Belgium. "Bic" is used as a generic term for a ballpoint pen there. (talk) 15:14, 17 January 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Bic Cristal promotion?[edit]

The Bic Cristal model seems to be getting featured a lot throughout the article – often in a manner that brings ad copy/promotional material to mind. Has a member of Bic's marketing department been editing here? By the time I finished reading the full article it had come to feel like it.

Perhaps "undue weight" at the very least, eh? (talk) 22:15, 14 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]


Firejuggler86 (talk) 09:30, 20 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Decline in shelf life[edit]

In my experience, ballpoint pens dry out much quicker than they used to. Old inks used to have a smell of solvents, while modern ones do not. Has there been a change ink formulas for planned obsolescence, perhaps due to perceived ecological reasons? I still have some pens from the 1990s that work. -- J7n (talk) 21:57, 16 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

As I understand it, "traditional ballpoint" ink is a simple viscous oil-based ink. These pens are extremely ink-economical. I believe examples include Parker ballpoint refills and the BIC Crystal. "Modern ballpoint" or "lubricated ballpoint" ink contains a lubricant which makes it smoother and bolder, closer in writing experience to a gel pen. The ink on these runs out quicker. There is also hybrid ink, which might have some overlap with lubricated ballpoint ink, and is supposed somehow to be a hybrid between rollerball and ballpoint ink, although I'm not sure of the details. I think the Schmidt easyflow 9000 is an example of this. Regardless of the emergence of new types of ink, many traditional ballpoint pens remain on the market, although they are declining in popularity. Intellectualrunoff (talk) 15:43, 2 August 2021 (UTC)[reply]

New Section for Dialectal Variations?[edit]

I saw that "Biro" for British English and "ball pen" for Phillipines' English were listed, so I went ahead and added "dot pen" which is a commonly used term in India. However, there are many more interesting names by which ballpoint pens are referred to in different places around the world. Should there perhaps be a "Dialectal Variations" section such as there is in 'Marker pen'?