June 6, 2015

The Pen From A Puddle

You know how ideas just sort of come to you...

Well, major innovations that have changed the course of history haven't really happened that way. 

All innovation and development start from somewhere--usually where G-d or someone else has left off--and then we take things a cycle forward. 

In the Wall Street Journal, James Ward describes how the simple yet profound ballpoint pen was invented. 

Not until 1899 was it founded giving everyone the ability to write away with a ball at the point (a ballpoint) that rolls and dispenses the ink with ease. 

The ballpoint pen was invented by Liszlo Biro of Budapest. 

Observing that in printing presses the machine cylinder could only roll ink back and forth, however for everyday writing people needed an all-directional mechanism. 

So what happens...

Sitting at a cafe and thinking, he sees children playing with marbles.

And one child's marble rolls through a puddle of water. 

The marble leaves "a line of water in its wake."

Boom...the idea for the ballpoint bearing comes in being with "minute grooves" in the pen head to draw the ink to the tip and unto the paper. 

With further experimentation, the famous Bic (Cristal) pen named after Frenchman, Marcel Bich, was born in 1959.  It has a "hexagonal body (inspired by the shape of aa traditional wooden pencil) and instantly recognizable lid"--since it's launch, more than 100 billion of these pens have been manufactured and sold!

By the way, remember the hilarious commercial for the Bic Banana Ink Crayon Pens (watch here to laugh a little).

So in both instances of the invention of the pen, the developers found other things in their environment from which they learned and then they applied it to something new (in one instance the child with the marble and water, and in the other the shape of the good 'ol pencil). 

Lesson learned here: 

Watch, learn, experiment, learn, apply -- change the world! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to photosteve101)

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