With its ballpoint and its timeless design, the Bic pen was a technological revolution. Functional and cheap, this disposable pen produced since 1950 in Clichy is also a symbol of consumer society. At the rate of three Bic pens sold every second, it’s the most popular ballpoint pen in the world.
Ever since the invention of the ballpoint pen in 1888 by John J. Loud, an American from Massachusetts, the instrument had difficulty finding a public in France, where traditionally a fountain pen was used for handwriting. It took until the end of the 40s and the refinement by a Frenchman − Marcel Bich, director of a company making spare parts for writing equipment in Clichy – to elevate it to the status of cult object.
Legend tells us that a flash of genius struck Marcel Bich while he was pushing a wheelbarrow "loaded with 50 kilos of potatoes". "Everything became clearer suddenly", he writes in his autobiographical notes. "What exactly was a ballpoint pen? Simply the application of the wheel in writing!" As the fable goes, he immediately used[...]