Who Invented the Ball Point Pen?

Page Created on 11/11/2013 and last reviewed 10/11/2015 by .
The first patent for a pen with a ball point goes to John J Loud of Weymouth, Massachusetts on Oct, 30 1888. John was a banker, poet, historian, musician, lawyer and inventor. Along with coming up with a marking pen capable of writing on rough surfaces, aka the ball 'tipped' pen, he also invented a safety cannon for firecrackers.

Ball Point Pen Drawings & Images

Ball Point Pen Patent Image

US Patent #392046

I (John Loud) Claim:

1. A pen having a spheroidal marking point, substantially as described.

2. A pen having a marking sphere capable of revolving in all directions, substantially and for the purposed described.

3. In a fountain-pen, a marking sphere, in combination with a spring, and a tube having a contracted mouth, whereby the sphere projects from the tube, substantially as and for the purposes described.

4. In a fountain pen, a tube having a contracted mouth, in combination with spring, a marking-sphere, and one or more anti-friction balls...

View full patent.

Early versions of the pens all suffered from a common weakness, namely, the ink.

Unless the consistency of the ink remained the same under varying weather conditions the pens would either leak due to thinning of the fluid, or would clog due to thickening.

It wasn't until 1945 that major improvements to the design of the ink allowed the ball point pen to become a commercial success.

John J Loud Biography

Photo of John J Loud

John Jacob Loud

A man of many interests and talents, John Jacob Loud was very well known in his hometown of Weymouth. Born 20 Nov,1844, he graduated from Weymouth High School and then moved on to Harvard University. He became a lawyer and worked as such until his father, the cashier of the Union National Bank asked him to become his assistant. Loud took the position in 1871. John married Emily Keith Vickery on 7 Nov., 1872. In 1874, his father passed and Loud was appointed as his replacement. He worked as cashier for over 20 years. Loud was a loyal member of the Union Congregational Church and one of the founders of the Weymouth Historical Society. Aside from being a civic leader and cultural contributor, John Jacob Loud was the inventor of the ballpoint pen . The invention was patented on October 30, 1889. and forever changed the art of writing. He died 10 Aug., 1916.

(Courtesy of Tufts Library and David Hurley.)

John J Loud Family Tree