Slavoljub Eduard Penkala – a great Croatian innovator and inventor

Slavoljub Eduard PenkalaWho was Slavoljub Eduard Penkala?

Croatia is proud to have had the famous innovator and inventor by the name of Slavoljub Eduard Penkala amongst its ranks. He was well-known for his enthusiasm and great energy for making practical devices with higher quality, more useful and much simpler. Penkala was born in the Slovak Republic formerly known as Liptovsky St Mikulas, on April 20, 1871. His father was Polish and his mother was Dutch.

When he was young, his family had noticed his keen interest in finding solutions to technical problems. He had already been doing some repair jobs at home where he had a small workshop. He studied medicine in Vienna, but later changed his course to chemistry in Dresden where he met a music student named Emilija who became his wife.

Why was he famous?

In 1900, after moving to Zagreb, he assumed a high ranking position in the Ministry of Finance. Soon, he rose to the rank of Royal Technical Controller. While his family was growing, Penkala was involved in various inventions. In 1906, he invented an automatic pencil which became a revolutionary innovation as a writing instrument at that time, and registered its patent.

Soon, he met the Moster family who saw his huge potential as an inventor, and he received financial support for his automatic pencil invention. In August 1906, they worked together to set up a company with his automatic pencil as their product. It became a phenomenal success both in local and foreign markets.

Soon, their product became widely known across the globe especially when they launched a smart advertising logo showing a funny man featuring big ears and a pointed nose, with an automatic pencil tucked at his back. The company rose to success, and diversified its business into other writing products and accessories patented by Penkala. When their business grew further, they decided to build a second factory in Berlin.

The legacy of Slavoljub Eduard Penkala

Penkala was recognized as the golden link in the 18th century chain of patents for writing instruments that he invented. Owing to his great achievements, Croatia has become famous for taking part in the development of Europe. While holding on to his job at the Ministry, Penkala started developing a new great idea. Being fascinated by the 1st flight of the Wright brothers as pioneers of aviation, he designed the 1st Croatian aircraft.

With great involvement in aero-dynamics, he registered patents for several inventions. In 1909, production of parts for Penkala’s aircraft has begun, and in 1910, the aircraft was finally completed. Numerous people from Zagreb have witnessed Penkala’s 1st flight in public and cheered his success. At that time, the Zagreb factory became recognized as one of the biggest and most modern factories in Europe. More product lines were produced led by the automatic pencil that Penkala has patented in 1917.

In January 1922, after his last journey on his job at the Ministry, he returned home very exhausted, and ill due to bad weather. He was diagnosed to have a serious case of pneumonia, and on the day that he was brought to the hospital, he died at the age of fifty. Many people were saddened because it was his peak of creative powers at that time, and he was on his way to create more inventions.