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Ball Point Pen

The scene on October 29, 1945 at Gimbel's Department Store in New York City was a madhouse. Big ads the day before had trumpeted the first sale in the U.S. of a new writing instrument that guaranteed would write for two years without refilling -- the ball point pen. By the end of the day, the store had sold its entire stock of 10,000 at $12.50 each. The new pens were invented by two Hungarian brothers who set up a factory in Argentina. The idea of the ball point pen was first patented in 1888 by John Loud of Massachusetts, who never made any pens. Now, ball points are a standard item in the nation's 8,600 office supply stores, which have sales of nearly $21 billion a year.

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