The history of the BIC Ballpoint: How one design revolutionised writing

When someone says the words “ballpoint pen,” we’re willing to bet a very specific, orange image pops into most people’s heads. 



The BIC ballpoint is iconic, recognisable, and everywhere people are writing things down. It’s an office staple, a classroom classic, and a primary operational implement for millions, if not billions of people every single day. It was also the very first of it’s kind: an affordable ballpoint pen. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see what makes the BIC ballpoint pen so special…

Where BIC began…

Marcel Bich, who would go on to become known as “the man who revolutionised writing,” was born in Italy in 1914. As a child, his family moved to Spain and then to France, where as a young man, Bich served in the Air Force in World War II.

In 1944, at the tender young age of 30, Marcel Bich bought a factory in Clichy, France, and set up business with his partner, Édouard Buffard, making parts for writing instruments. Originally, Bich was very skeptical of ballpoint pens, as the mechanic at the time was often leaky, clunky and incredibly expensive. However, in 1946, while using his wheelbarrow, he noticed the groove the front wheel left in the ground, and became inspired to create a ballpoint pen design that would allow the user totally fluid freedom of movement.

The birth of the ballpoint

Once struck by inspiration, Marcel Bich bought the patent for the ballpoint pen for US$2 million from László Bíró, who had been producing ballpoints since 1943 in Argentina. Using watchmaking tools and his knowledge of the finer workings of writing instruments, Bich devised the stainless steel tip design that makes our pens glide, and by 1950, the BIC Cristal pen was born. The pen immediately took off because of its combined efficiency and affordability, and almost overnight became an international bestseller. The design was so good that it hasn’t changed since 1950! By 1953, Bich called his company, Société Bic.

Growing up and glowing up

Just as Société Bic was formed, Marcel Bich teamed up with a French designer to create the iconic “BICBoy” logo that we still use today, which won the first French Oscar for advertising. Between 1950 and 70s, BIC expanded globally into Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Spain, then South and North America.

In 1973, BIC launched a disposable pocket lighter that boasted 3 000 lights, which is now as ubiquitous globally as our ballpoint pen. In 1975, BIC launched the first single-piece disposable razor with an integrated blade and a lightweight plastic handle, another innovation that has taken the world by storm. In 1993, when Marcel Bich stepped down as chairman, he was replaced by his son Bruno. The company continues to stay family-run and flourishing, spreading operations to all corners of the globe.



Get on the BIC deal!

BIC may have changed the world of writing, lighting and oh-so-smooth shaving, but it did so one person at a time. Have you experienced the BIC difference? Think quality, durability, convenience, ease of use and a household name, trusted worldwide.

Once you’ve tried BIC, you’ll never go back, so experience the innovation Marcel Bich brought to your everyday essentials when you visit a stationery or convenience outlet today. BIC is a staple of our past, let’s take it into the future!