A ballpoint pen (also called a biro - pronounced "BY-roe" - in British English after its inventor László Bíró), is a modern kind of pen for writing. The ink is inside a long, thin unit inside the pen. When a person writes with it, the ink comes onto the small, ball-shaped tip of the unit. The ink dries almost as soon as it is on the paper.
Before the ballpoint pen was invented people usually wrote with pens which were dipped into ink, or fountain pens which were filled with ink whenever the ink was all used up. When the ballpoint pen was invented, many people thought they were bad things to use because people's handwriting was not so good. Children in schools had to continue to use ordinary ink pens. However, ballpoint pens were improved, and they are much easier to use than pens that need to be dipped in ink, so almost everybody writes with them now.
The inventor László Bíró registered his invention of the ballpoint pen in 1938.
There are two kinds of ballpoint pens:
- Disposable pens (ones that can be thrown away) are extremely cheap. They are made almost entirely of plastic. They can be thrown away once all the ink is used up.
- Refillable pens are of better quality and cost more. The unit which has the ink in it, and includes the ball-shaped tip, can be replaced fairly cheaply.