The scene on this date in 1945 at Gimbel’s department store in New York City was shopping chaos. Big ads the day before had trumpeted the first sale in the U.S. of a new writing instrument that guaranteed it would write for two years without refilling — the ballpoint 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 ballpoint pen was first patented in 1888 by John Loud of Massachusetts, who never made any pens. Now, ballpoints are a standard item in the nation’s 9,500 office supply stores, which have sales of nearly $23 billion a year. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.