Among those that I will remember the most when I leave the UP College of Law are the things that helped me get by law school: ballpens, highlighters, and post-its. These items are commonly taken for granted by other people, but for us law students, these are necessities. For me, these are the “musts” in my survival kit in law school. Whoever invented these are geniuses!
Ever wondered how these ever came to be? I have always found interesting the stories behind how things originated. Let me share with you what I’ve found out about these items.
Ballpens, or ball point pens, were first patented by John Loud, an American leather tanner, in 1888. It was initially made as a writing instrument that would be able to write on leather products, which then-common fountain pens could not do. However, this was not commercially viable at the time because the ink used in the ball point pens either clogged or leaked. Later on, many tried to create a ball-point pen that would work well, but these efforts failed. Then, in 1935, a Hungarian newspaper editor named Ladislas Biro, decided to create a pen that uses newspaper ink. He was frustrated by the amount of time he wasted filling fountain pens and cleaning up ink smudges. He decided to use newspaper ink, which dries quickly and leaves the paper dry and smudge free. He also fitted a tiny rough ball in the tip of the pen that was free to turn in its socket as the pen moved along the paper. This ball acted like a metal sponge and the improvement ink could flow more smoothly to the ball. The invention worked well and this became the precursor to the modern day ballpoint pen.
The first highlighter was invented by Sidney Rosenthal in 1952. Called the “magic marker,” the device consisted of glass bottle filled with ink and wool felt wick and tip. However, the invention was not very successful due to the large amount of competition and innovation by others. In 1963, the Avery Corporation created "Hi-Liter," which used a translucent-ink in various pastel shades. The first fluorescent color, which was yellow, came in only in 1978.
The story of Post-it notes started with the invention of the infamous and unique, repositionable adhesive at the back of the Post-it note. Dr. Spencer Silver invented this adhesive in 1968, but at first didn’t find any use for it. For five years, he promoted this invention within his company, 3M, but he was not that successful. In 1974, his collegue, Art Fry, attended one of Silver's seminars. Fry remembered the light adhesive when he was daydreaming about a bookmark that would stay put in his church hymnal. So he coated some of his markers with adhesive, so the markers stayed in place without damaging the pages of the hymnal when these were lifted. And so Post-its were born.
Angeli I. Serapio, Entry #8