Eduard Slavoljub Penkala is one of the essential inventors from the beginning of the 20th century was born on April 20, 1871, in Liptovský Mikuláš (Liptószentmiklós), in Hungary (today Slovakia).
He was a Croatian chemistry engineer of Polish-Dutch origin. He graduated from the Royal High Technical School in Dresden on March 25, 1898, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on organic chemistry.
Penkala chose Zagreb as a place of residence for his family. His career began here. Penkala chose to be a Croat and eventually added Slavoljub to his name and became a naturalized Croat. His most famous invention is the automatic mechanical pencil.
A Pen is named after Penkala
Many people think that the name “Penkala” used for a pen in many countries comes from an English word pen, but it is named after him.
That’s not all…
To gain an impression of the popularity of his invention, the fun fact is that by sending ten samples of a mechanical pencil to Europe, he got an order to make 100,000 pens!
His first invention was a thermophore
His first invention was a thermophore in 1903, which is considered to be the forerunner of a thermos bottle.
Penkala invented a rotating toothbrush
Two years later he announced a new design – a rotating toothbrush. Apparently, the idea for invention came because of his daughter Thee who didn’t like to brush her teeth and was hiding in the house before every wash, so he decided to help her. During his lifetime he completed 80 inventions from chemistry, medicine, mechanics, physics, and aviation. Some of his inventions are pen holders for pockets, laundry detergents, thermos, rotating toothbrushes, pocket lamps, insecticides…
He traveled a lot and stayed at hotels, so he invented a bug spray to kill insects in hotel rooms! He paid great attention to advertising his inventions. There was an exciting story about an advertising pen when an elegantly dressed practitioner walked the streets of Graz holding a pen the size of a walking stick.
A trademark of his company, a funny man with huge ears and a spiky nose, was designed by Penkala
The citizens were delighted. This interesting idea attracted everyone, so a police officer arrested the young man for breaking the law because masquerade and parade were banned by the city council. The whole case ended up in the newspapers. The design of the trademark of his company, a funny man with huge ears and a spiky nose, was designed by Penkala. It was his caricature.
He worked on the materials for the making of the gramophone records, and he perfected the mass of ebonite from which the gramophone records were cast and patented the extended lifespan of a stylus.
Penkala invested in the construction of the first Croatian plane
All the money he earned from the pen, he invested in the construction of the first Croatian plane. During the aircraft construction, Penkala built a hangar on military training ground and created the first runway in Croatia.
Penkala liked nature, and with their son Eduard, he often watched butterflies and birds. He liked the butterfly Neptus Lucillo very much, and he was given an idea of how to construct a plane.
In 1908, he began to construct a plane in Zagreb. The aircraft was completed in 1910, driven by Dragutin Novak, the first Croatian pilot. Penkala’s aircraft is remembered as the first built aircraft built in Croatia. Penkala wanted his inventions to start producing and was the founder of several companies. He founded Penkala-Edmund Moster & Co. The company developed a factory in Zagreb and started to produce automatic mechanical pencils and other stationery. It has become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of stationery, and the mechanical pencil has achieved excellent market success in 70 countries. The name Penkala, under which it was sold in some countries, is still used today for a pen of this kind.
He died in 1922 at the age of 51. His creativity made Croatia very proud, and we will always try to embrace his great achievements!