BUENOS AIRES — The way Ladislao Biro liked to tell the story, he was signing some papers in a Budapest hotel half a century ago when a distinguished stranger asked about the unusual pen he was using.
Biro explained that as a young Hungarian newspaperman he was frustrated by fountain pens that always seemed to run out of ink at precisely the wrong moment. He had invented a new kind of pen.
Impressed, the stranger gave Biro a card and encouraged him to bring his idea to the New World. Biro accepted the casual lobby invitation of Argentine President Agustin P. Justo.
He came to Buenos Aires, built himself a garage workshop, became an Argentine citizen and revolutionized the way modern man writes his name.
Ladislao Biro, inventor of the ballpoint pen, died here Thursday at 86. His remains were cremated Friday. He leaves a legacy in every shirt pocket, and a Hungarian-born word in Spanish dictionaries-- "la birome. "