$5 knockoff of world famous Parker 51 fountain pen

The Parker 51 vs Hero Extra Light

I had to try this $5 knockoff of my favorite pen, the Parker 51.

The burgundy colored Parker 51 has been one of my go to pens for decades. Produced continually from 1941 to 1972, the Parker 51 launched with marketing declaring it "the World's best pen." Currently pens in good working order can command prices in excess of $100, so I had to try this $5 imitation, the Hero Extra Light.

Parker 51 and Hero innards

Finish-wise the Hero is looks very similar to the Parker. The top of the cap is a bit more pointed and the Parker's translucent "jewel" is replaced with metal on the Hero. The band where the two halves of the pen fit together is also plastic on the Hero, rather than the metal ring on the Parker. The filling mechanism is nearly identical, as viewed. I have not disassembled the Hero, but likely will, at the very least it appears to be useful as replacement parts for the Parker.

In a writing test the Hero is most definitely not the Parker, however I've been writing with this nib for a long time. The Hero writes well enough, ink flows smoothly and I can certainly use the pen. I am not sure it'll ever acquire the same feeling in my hand as my authentic 51, even with years of use, but for $5 it is certainly close. The Hero strikes me more as a new pen rather than "just not a Parker 51."

If you want something super close to a Parker 51 but don't want to pay collectors prices, the Hero Extra Light is a good call.

Hero Extra Light Fountain Pen

Pilot Varsity - low cost, smooth writing fountain pen

pilot-pensMy sister is in town and she brought with her a 7-pack of Pilot Varsity fountain pens. Each one is a different color. I tried them out and love them. The ink flows smoothly and looks great in my notebook and even on cheap printer paper. Amazon sells the seven pack for $14, and you can buy 3-packs and single pens there, too. Pilot Varsity fountain pens, 7-Pack

Nuria Riaza's ballpoint portraits

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Spanish artist Nuria Riaza creates magical ballpoint portraits. (via Hi-Fructose)

Weib

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The best pen

According to Wirecutter's survey of top pen bloggers, it's the Uniball Jetstream.

My own favorite, the Pilot Precise (pictured above) comes in joint second place.

Of course, there's rarely any reason not to just use a pencil.

Real history of the Fisher Space Pen

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I've carried a Fisher Space Pen Bullet on and off since I was a kid. ("Write underwater and upside down!") I usually lose them in a matter of weeks, but while I can manage to hold on to one I do appreciate its minimalist design, small size, and great "fiddleability." Of course, the Space Pen is surrounded by some epic marketing and myth. Did NASA really invest millions to develop a perfect pen for astronauts? No, apparently, Fisher had developed the pen technology and later brought it to NASA. Following two years of testing, the space agency bought 400 of the pens at a 40 percent discount. And on October 11, 1968, Apollo 7 astronauts carried Fisher Space Pens, model AG7, into orbit.

"The Fisher Space Pen Boldly Writes Where No Man Has Written Before" (Smithsonian)

Fisher Space Pen AG7 (Amazon)

Wacom Inkling

Wacom's Inkling is a pen that draws both on paper and on-screen, tracking the artist's linework with 1024 levels of sensitivity. At $200, it's barely even expensive! The Inkling will be in stores by mid-September.

Inkling [Wacom]

All in one pen, screwdriver, level and ruler

Metal-Pen-with-Level-and-Screwdriver_9828-l.jpeg Neatorama has in this metal pen with a level, a screwdriver, and a ruler built-in. All for $15! But ... is it tactical? [Neatorama via Gadget Lab]

The fun, exciting, potentially deadly world of Tactical Pens

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[Editor's note: Pesco posted about these weaponized writing implements here last year; today, enjoy a hands-on from guestblogger Sean Bonner. —XJ]

What the crap is a tactical pen? A pen that kicks ass, basically. And I don't just mean it's "a kick-ass pen," I mean: this pen could literally kick your ass. To death, maybe. But it's also a pen, so it's civilized. No definitive answer on how mighty a tactical pen is in comparison to a sword, but the tactical pen is definitely mightier than the regular pen.

After first hearing about these on Every Day Carry, I decided I needed to see one in person. So I picked one up. Then another. Then did some comparing and contrasting, all scientifical-like. I can now share my results with you. Here's a few that happen to be in front of me as I write this post.

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From L to R: Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen, Emergency Survival Covert Spy Ventilator Pen (carbon fiber), County Comm Embassy Elite Pen (stainless), Pilot Easy Touch (fine point), Sharpie (standard).

The first one I picked up was the Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen. I figured they make guns and bullets and stuff so they probably could make a pretty bad-ass tactical pen, right?

Read the rest

Is this the first D-pad?

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

To a certain group of dedicated dorks, videogame controllers and their history is fiercely interesting, even to the point of having dedicated T-shirts. It's to those folks I present this discovery: this looks like it may be the first product (image from a 1977 ad) with a joypad-like device, used for user input (enlargement mine):
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Ah, the CALCUPEN. Now, I know Gunpei Yokoi usually gets credit for those little 4-way rocker switches first used on the famous Game & Watch series, but it sure looks like our little Calcupen has five of the things running up its nerdy spine there. Granted, they're used for numerical input as opposed to direction control, but it's essentially the same device. I bet, if one was lucky enough to find one, a Calcupen could be wired to act as an old Nintendo controller!

Maybe the Calcupen is really that missing link between nerd productivity culture and nerd time-wasting culture. I smell a dissertation.