Home & Design

Apr 1, 2015

Writing & Co.

It's one of the most famous names in stationary products, but it was the Crystal ballpoint pens that helped this brand take over the world. From the early days when the brand made fountain pens to the modern days surf boards, BIC has already lived for 70 years.

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The company started in Clichy, France, when Marcel Bich and Edouard Buffard started manufacturing fountain pens and mechanical parts for pencils under the name Societé PPA. The year was 1945 and in a war ravashed France, rebuilding was crucial. The small factory soon expanded and in 1950 the most well-known product from BIC, and maybe the most notorious pen in the world was introduced. The BIC Cristal was different and innovative. The ballpoint pen was not a BIC invention however. Marcel Bich had contact with the product made by argentinian Ladislao Biro, so he patented the design wich was developed for five years by his engineering team - Décolletage Plastique - at Société PPA.

Bich invested in Swiss technology capable of cutting and shaping metal down to 0.01 millimetre, with the outcome a stainless steel, one millimetre sphere which allowed ink to flow freely. After many attempts Bich found a viscosity of ink which neither leaked nor clogged. The result was the BIC Cristal, and the company would also have a new name: Societé BIC.

With a winning product, the company could spread its business all over the world, and the expansion started in 1954 with the brand's introduction in the Italian market, followed by Brazil, the Commonwealth, Scandinavia, the USA, Middle East, Africa and during the 1990's, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Throughout 70 years in its history, BIC has introduced some products that became iconic around the globe. From the Cristal ballpoint pen, BIC expanded its product range lauching the Graphic pen in 1969, the BIC Lighter in 1973, the disposable Shaver in 1975, coloring and drawing pencils and BIC Sport division in 1979. The Sport Division is responsible for the design and manufacture of windsurf and paddle-surf boards, as well as dinghys for children.

Most recently, BIC introduced other product lines, like the BIC Phone in 2008 – available in France and Spain only – and the BIC Eductaion division, a joint-venture between the Clichy brand and IT giant Intel, to develop and manufacture next generation digital educational solution for schools, including digital tablets for students and educational software for teachers. 

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