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Google Celebrates Ladislao Jose Biro's 117Th Birthday



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I was amused/alarmed* to note how wrong major news outlets got some of the details of pen history in covering this story.

 

According to The Telegraph, "Prior to the ballpoint pen, which was invented in relatively recent history, all pens used a nib and a dark, watery ink called india ink." India ink was surely never used for fountain pens - 100 years ago as now, India ink would clog feeds.

 

Over at Vox, we're told that "before the invention of the ballpoint pen, most people wrote with fountain pens, which required ink cartridges to refill, had old-fashioned nibs, and could easily leak." But cartridges only became common in the 1960s, long after the introduction of the the biro.

 

* alarmed because, lordy, if they get these details wrong, how many details about things that I don't know much about do they likewise get wrong?

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Kenneth Moyle

Hamilton, Ontario

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I was amused/alarmed* to note how wrong major news outlets got some of the details of pen history in covering this story.

 

According to The Telegraph, "Prior to the ballpoint pen, which was invented in relatively recent history, all pens used a nib and a dark, watery ink called india ink." India ink was surely never used for fountain pens - 100 years ago as now, India ink would clog feeds.

 

Over at Vox, we're told that "before the invention of the ballpoint pen, most people wrote with fountain pens, which required ink cartridges to refill, had old-fashioned nibs, and could easily leak." But cartridges only became common in the 1960s, long after the introduction of the the biro.

 

* alarmed because, lordy, if they get these details wrong, how many details about things that I don't know much about do they likewise get wrong?

If you're knowledgeable about anything at all, it's hard not to notice this sort of thing, unfortunately. I don't know if journalistic standards were always this low or if it has gotten worse in recent years. And of course, the British commemorate Biro by mispronouncing his name as a word for any ballpoint pen. (Sorry, couldn't resist B) )

 

Some years ago, I read this biography of Biro, I believe due to the recommendation of somebody on this site. It really is a fascinating story.

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

 

- Benjamin Franklin

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Shouldn't we be sticking pins in his voodoo doll?

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

 

B. Russell

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I had a negative feeling for journalistic standards for the first time several years ago. It was during the Falkland war, during the news of the main TV channel there was the new that a Vulcan bomber was not able to land on the HMS Invincible and instead land in an airport in Brasil.

If you know something about airplanes, you know that a Vulcan not only cannot land on a small carrier made for VTOL aircraft, but that the Vulcan is a very large aircraft that cannot land also on the largest US Navy air carrier 😀

 

Alfredo

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The Telegraph was partially right. They did not say fountain pen, they said all pens used a nib. That could be be dip pens, which used India ink. Otherwise, i missed the rest of the small details.

 

Thank you.

Peace and Understanding

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The Telegraph was partially right. They did not say fountain pen, they said all pens used a nib. That could be be dip pens, which used India ink. Otherwise, i missed the rest of the small details.

 

Thank you.

You are too kind to the journalist: the set of "all pens" *includes* fountain pens; fountain pens did not use India ink. Ergo, the journalist was just wrong on a small but easily verified fact.

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Kenneth Moyle

Hamilton, Ontario

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