The first Pilot pens were launched in Japan in 1918. Ryosuke Namiki, a mechanical engineer and professor at the Tokyo Merchant Marine College, was captivated by the ingenuity of the fountain pens which his contemporaries called "10.000 year brushes" because of their uninterrupted ink flow. However, Ryosuke Namiki remained convinced about their imperfections and using his skills in industrial engineering, he created a high quality prototype of his own design and formed a partnership with Masao Wada.As a tribute to their other shared passion, the sea, the pair used the brand name Pilot, referring to the fleet's flagship.

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