Busi­ness­men made sig­nif­i­cant for­tunes by pur­chas­ing the rights to man­u­fac­ture the ball­point pen in their coun­try, but one is espe­cial­ly note­wor­thy: Mar­cel Bich, the man who bought the patent rights in France. Bich didn’t just prof­it from the ball­point; he won the race to make it cheap. When it first hit the mar­ket in 1946, a ball­point pen sold for around $10, rough­ly equiv­a­lent to $100 today. Com­pe­ti­tion brought that price steadi­ly down, but Bich’s design drove it into the ground. When the Bic Cristal hit Amer­i­can mar­kets in 1959, the price was down to 19 cents a pen. Today the Cristal sells for about the same amount, despite infla­tion.