domingo, 19 de junio de 2016

Ladislao Biró y la historia de las palabras

Ladislao Biró y la historia de las palabras

https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/ladislao-biro-y-la-historia-de-las-palabras/?utm_source=materia&utm_medium=web&utm_content=pildora_redirect

Ladislao José Biró (1899-1985) nació en Hungría (László József Bíróy terminó su vida en Argentina, huyendo del nazismo que asolaba Europa. Periodista, inventor, empresario…, El padre del bolígrafo (o birome en Argentina) era un hombre ávido de conocimiento y con múltiples intereses: desde la química o la pintura, a la organización social de las hormigas, a las que observaba durante horas, según su hija Mariana Biró, a cargo de la fundación creada en honor a su padre. Llegó a Argentina con su hermano Jorge (George) y su socio Juan Mayne, y poco después se les unirían su esposa Elsa y su hija. Argentina lo acogió con los brazos abiertos y hoy lo recuerda como toda una institución: el día del inventor es el día de su cumpleaños (29 de septiembre) y cada año se conceden unos importantes premios a nivel nacional que llevan su nombre.
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Ladislao Biro hacia 1978 / Autor: desconocido

“El problema de la escritura ya está resuelto”

Así contestaban a Ladislao cuando explicaba su invento, según relata Mariana Biró. En pleno periodo de entreguerras y con la imprenta a todo gas, las máquinas de escribir en pleno auge y la pluma estilográfica al alcance de muchos bolsillos, parecía que el inventor húngaro-argentino estaba “rizando el rizo”: había otras prioridades. Pero Biró estaba acostumbrado a tratar con las palabras, pues fueron su materia prima mientras ejerció como periodista: sabía bien lo que era lidiar con los borrones de tinta cuando la inspiración no permite prestar atención a detalles como el ritmo o el tiempo de secado.
El bolígrafo ni siquiera ha cumplido 1 siglo, mientras que sus “primas”, la pluma de ave y sus derivados, llevan más de un milenio entre nosotros; y otra “pariente”, la imprenta, más de 500 años. El bolígrafo es a primera vista un invento sencillo, casi obvio a los ojos del homo digitalis. Sin embargo, se trata de una herramienta que tardó en evolucionar desde su antecesor (la pluma) para empezar a convivir en muy poco tiempo con una legión de sucesores (los teclados, las pantallas táctiles…). Pero ese es precisamente el matiz que hace de Ladislao un inventor brillante: supo ver más allá de lo que muchos daban por hecho y nunca desistió en su afán por mejorar un proceso que el resto asumía había desarrollado ya todo su potencial. ¿Cómo pudo el ser humano desarrollar el teléfono antes que el boli? ¿o la máquina de escribir? El boli nació después que los primeros teclados (los de las máquinas de escribir) pero, quizás, el primero se utilizará siempre, mientras que los segundos, quién sabe cuándo y por qué serán reemplazados.

“Instrumento para escribir a punta esférica loca”

Así llamó Ladislao a su invento, que por cierto, funcionaba con un sistema que no ha evolucionado desde entonces. Biró, con la ayuda de su hermano Jorge (químico de formación), desarrolló un mecanismo para evitar que la tinta se amontonase y produjera borrones en el papel: una “bolita” en la punta del tubo que contenía la tinta. ¿De dónde sacó la idea? Hay varias versiones de la historia según las fuentes y quizás, detrás del momentoeureka de Biró haya un poco de cada una. Según su fundaciónBiró se inspiró en los mecanismos de las rotativas de los periódicos: un rodillo que imprimía la tinta en el papel, pero más pequeño, por lo que evolucionó hacia una forma esférica. Otras fuentes afirman que fue algo mucho más cotidiano lo que arrancó su idea: unos niños jugaban a las caninas en la calle y vio cómo una de las bolas de cristal salía rodando sobre un charco, dejando a su paso un perfecto y homogéneo reguero de agua.

Una startup y un garaje

El desarrollo empresarial del invento de Biró empezó en un garaje con 40 operarios, cual startup del Silicon Valley actual. El bolígrafo nació bajo el nombre comercial de Birome (Acrónimo formado por las sílabas iniciales de Biro y Meyne, socios principales). Para vender los beneficios del nuevo invento se destacaban características como el secado instantáneo, la tinta indeleble o sencillamente, que no requería ser cargado, al contrario que las estilográficas de la época.
Como buen emprendedor tecnológico, Ladislao también vendió su startup a una compañía más grande, la multinacional estadounidense Evershap Faber. Ladislao era un hombre pragmático y una mente inquieta, por lo que ideó distintos dispositivos, más allá del mundo de los inventos “periodísticos”, como una pionera máquina de lavar la ropa, que funcionaba con la energía producida por una cocina de uso casero y que se hizo popular en los años treinta, o un sistema de cambios automático (1932) cuya patente vendió después a laGeneral Motors en Berlín, quienes lo compraron no para fabricarlo, sino para evitar que lo hiciera la competencia.
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Propaganda en Revista Argentina “Leoplán” de 1945 promocionando el primer bolígrafo comercial, marca “birome” / Imagen: autor desconocido
La figura de Ladislao no ha caído en el olvido, pues en su segunda patria los argentinos celebran el Día del Inventor el 29 de septiembre, en honor a su cumpleaños. El bolígrafo es pues, un invento nacido de un maestro de las palabras. Un invento joven pero de momento, sin rival, en cuanto a que no hay un mecanismo que supere o modifique su funcionamiento. Mariana Biró dice de su padre que siempre fue un pensador incansable, que siguió inventando y creando después o a pesar de su éxito comercial con la birome, y que tuvo siempre como mantra lo que el definía como la naturaleza de todo inventor: “ver las fallas como desafíos y conservar su imaginación personal como su propio incentivo”
Dory Gascueña para OpenMind

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