Some people take their pens very, very seriously.
I’m one of them, and I understand how great pens attract cult followings. But among these pens, the Fisher space pen stands in a class by itself: it’s a great pen, sure, but it’s also the stuff of urban legend.
The story on Snopes goes like this:
During the space race back in the 1960’s, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the “Astronaut Pen”. Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.
The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.
They used a pencil.
Pen geeks don’t care about the Russian’s pencils, but American taxpayers will be happy to hear that’s not exactly what happened back in the 60s.
Though rumored to have been developed by NASA, the Fisher Pen Company is actually the entity that spent a million dollars developing a pen that could be used in extreme conditions of outer space. (Pencils are no good, because they break, sending their fragments orbiting through the spaceship, and can burn–an obvious hazard after the fatal fire aboard the Apollo 1.)
In 1965, Fisher created a pen that worked in a vacuum, with no gravity, and in blazing heat and bitter cold. Two years later Fisher sold NASA 400 space pens for $2.95 each. Those pens were aboard for the Apollo and Skylab missions.
I’ve never used a space pen, but I have one on my Christmas list. (I have a thing for good pens.) What’s your pen of choice?
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This is the eighteenth post in a series, 31 Days of Cult Classics. You can click here to see a list of all the posts, updated everyday in the month of October.