Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

It started as an answer to leaky pens carried by U.S. soldiers during the Second World War, was perfected and made popular by an Italian-born baron and has written its way into history as the world's biggest-selling pen.

More than half a century after honing a cheap version of the ballpoint pen, Société Bic SA, the French firm which built an empire out of making things to be thrown away said yesterday it had sold its 100 billionth -- 100,000,000,000th -- disposable ballpoint.

The group started small after the war and now has annual revenue of about €1.4-billion ($2.05-billion), including sales of razors and lighters. It reported the milestone along with first-half profit.

Story continues below advertisement

"The pens have been sold on average 57 times a second since 1950," Société Bic SA said.

Its founder, Baron Marcel Bich, originally planned to make fountain pen parts when he bought a factory with his partner Edouard Buffard outside Paris at the end of the war. But a chance encounter with a wheelbarrow changed all that, recalls his son Bruno Bich, who now runs the firm.

"My father told me that one day he was pushing a wheelbarrow when it dawned on him that the ball was a multifaceted wheel and this was the best way to convey ink," he told Reuters.

"So he put all his investment into the ballpoint. He was the first to use very precise production techniques," he added.

Ballpoint pens had been sold before the war for the then-luxurious sum of $5 and were brought to Europe by American GI soldiers, Mr. Bich said. Only they leaked.

Looking for a catchy name for his new product, the baron shortened his own to BIC and snapped up patents including Laszlo Biro's design for a non-disposable pen with a rotating ball. BB (Paris) fell 78 euro cents ($1.14) to €47.81. Reuters

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies