Bic is a French/American company that manufactures stationary, shavers, sailboards and cigarette lighters. Though these are not products that one would necessarily group together in the normal frame of things, Bic produces high quality examples of each.

The Bic story began in 1945, when a young manager for a French ink manufacturer named Marcel Bich1 broke free from the repressive shackles of the ink industry and bought a factory outside Paris. He and his partner, Edouard Buffard, set up business as makers of fountain pen parts and mechanical pencils.

The first Bic ballpoint pen was introduced in 1949. Called simply 'BIC', it took the world by storm, selling even beyond Bich's expectations. Seeing the universal appeal and chance for profit inherent in a mass-produced ballpoint pen, Bich bought the Waterman Pen Company in Seymour, Connecticut. The first American Bic was released in 1959.

The Bic pen was met with skepticism in the US, as many inferior cheap ballpoint pens had been introduced to the marketplace by other manufacturers. Bic floated an impressively large television advertising campaign featuring the slogan 'Writes First Time, Every Time!'. The pen was a smash hit and in 1963 Waterman-Bic moved into the present site of the Bic Corporation headquarters in Milford, Connecticut.

In 1973 Waterman-Bic expanded into the cigarette lighter industry. The slogan for the original Bic lighters was 'Flick your Bic!'. Their success in the lighter market is comparable only with their success in the stationary market. Today Bic lighters are the number one selling lighters in North America. In 1992 Bic released the first disposable child-proof lighter.

The first Bic shavers were released in 1976. The Bic was one of the world's first one-piece, disposable shavers. In 1993 Bic began marketing twin-blade shavers, which quickly became the industry standard.

The least well known of Bic's products are its sailboards. The sailboards were first created in 1981 by Bic Sport. Bic Sport now have the world's number one sailboards.

But let's face it, all we really care about is the stationary.

1 Incidentally, according to South Park Bich is Latin for generosity. I have been informed by break that this is not true.

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