BIC (ballpoint pen)

Bic logo 1950
BIC logo 1950
Name: "BIC Cristal"

Category: Home - Office - School

Subcategory: Stationery

Inventor: Marcel Bich

Producer: Société BIC (original name "Société PPA - Porte-plume, Porte-mines et Accessoires", founded on October 25, 1944 by Marcel Bich and Edouard Buffard, and renamed Société BIC on March 3, 1953)

Production start: December 1950 - Clichy, France

First price: 0.50 French francs

Marcel Bich
Turin, July 29, 1914 -
Paris, May 30, 1994,
inventor of the
BIC ballpoint pen
Features: The BIC Cristal was designed by the Décolletage Plastique design team at Société PPA (later Société Bic). Marcel Bich invested in Swiss technology capable of cutting and shaping metal down to 0.01 millimetre, thus obtaining a stainless steel sphere of a millimeter in diameter that allowed the ink to flow freely. Bich also developed a viscosity of ink which neither leaked nor clogged. The hexagonal shape was taken from the wooden pencil and yields an economical use of plastic along with strength and three grip points giving high writing stability. The pen's transparent polystyrene barrel shows the ink-level. A tiny hole in the barrel's body maintains the same air pressure inside and outside the pen. The thick ink flows down due to gravity from a tube inside the barrel to feed a ball bearing which spins freely within a brass/nickel silver tip. Dimensions: 5 7/8 x 1/2" (14.9 x 1.3 cm).

Interesting facts: In late 1944 Marcel Bich started working with Edouard Buffard (1908-1996), manufacturing parts for fountain pens in a factory in Clichy, just outside of Paris (France). During this period, Marcel Bich realized the enormous potential for the ballpoint pen. Subsequently, he adapted and improved a process for making ballpoints invented by the Hungarian László Bíró and in December 1950, launched his own ballpoint pen in France under the BIC brand, a shortened and more memorable version of his own name. The pen quickly became an important export: called the "Atomic pen" in France, throughout the 1950s and 1960s the BIC Cristal's ballpoint writing tip and ergonomic design helped change the worldwide market for pens from fountain pens to mostly ballpoints. In 2005 the BIC Cristal pen was made a part of the collection of the Department of Architecture and Design of the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA).

Slogan (1952): «Elle court, elle court, la Pointe BIC» - "It runs, it runs, the BIC Point"

Property: Société BIC

Producer website:

Société PPA
Bic: the original headquarters of Société PPA (founded on October 25, 1944), which would later become Société BIC, in Clichy, France

Bic Cristal
BIC Cristal, the first ballpoint pen produced by BIC (December 1950)

Bic ad 1952
BIC, the first advertising campaign (1952) by Raymond Savignac: "Elle court, elle court, la Pointe BIC" (It runs, it runs, the BIC Point)

Bic at the Tour de France 1952
BIC, Publicity Caravan at the Tour de France (1952)

Bic at the Tour de France 1953 - A
Bic at the Tour de France 1953 - B
Bic at the Tour de France 1953 - C
BIC, Publicity Caravan at the Tour de France (1953, design by Félix Aublet)

Bic ad 1956
BIC advertising (1956) by Raymond Savignac: "BIC ècriture souple" (BIC flexible writing)

Bic ad 1961
BIC advertising (1961) by Raymond Savignac, to promote the new pen with the ball made of tungsten carbide: "Nouvelle bille" (new ball). Hoping to attract the attention of children, Savignac designed a schoolboy with his head replaced by the pen's ball and holding a pen behind his back.

Bic logo 1962
BIC, iconic logo (1962) with the "BIC Boy" created by Raymond Savignac. Over time, this logo has been used to brand the entire range of BIC products, such as lighters and shavers.

Bic Cristal 60th Anniversary
BIC Cristal celebrates 60 years (1950-2010)