Tuesday, July 7, 2015 | 2 a.m.
What do NASA, Ronald Reagan, “Seinfeld” and the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding teams have in common?
They have all used Southern Nevada-based Fisher Space Pen Co.
Tucked in a corner of Boulder City near the State Veterans Home, Fisher Space Pen has been patenting space-ready pens since 1965.
It was then that Paul C. Fisher developed a pen that did not rely on gravity to work. The AG7 Anti-Gravity Pen could write upside down, at any angle and on almost any surface. Because it was pressurized it could also write under water, through grease and in extreme temperatures ranging from -30 to 250 degrees F.
NASA was the first to get its hands on the revolutionary pens when it sent them into space on the Apollo 7 in 1968.
In the early days of NASA, astronauts used pencils to write notes because standard ballpoint pens could not function without gravity.
But lead tips broke off easily and became a hazard by floating through spacecraft, where they could harm astronauts or damage equipment.
Since the Apollo 7 Mission, the company has been producing the pens used in all of NASA’s manned space flights, more than 100 in total.
“It’s been pretty special being a part of America’s history,” said Paul C. Fisher’s son Cary Fisher, who has been leading the company since his father’s death in 2006. “Growing up, astronauts used to come to my house all the time.”
The pens range in price from as low as $25 to over $200 and can be found in several styles at Office Depot, Staples and many other retailers. This month, more than 40 years after that Apollo 7 flight, Fisher Space Pen is commemorating its history with a Fourth of July-inspired pen.
The special edition Star Spangled Banner pen is a light-weight, stylish pen that resembles the American flag with all the features of the original astronaut instrument.
“The pen is a nice representation of what we’re about,” says Cary Fisher’s son, Matt Fisher, who is the company’s vice president of sales. “We’re proud to be one of the last high-end pen companies in America.”
The company has garnered considerable media attention over the years, from being used by Ronald Reagan to sign the 1983 Proclamation Inaugurating the Air and Space Bicentennial Year to celebrate man's first flight in a hot air balloon, to being named the official pen for the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding teams.
The famed pen was also featured in a number of TV shows, including “Mad Men,” “The Newsroom” and “Gilmore Girls,” and can be found in the New York Museum of Modern Art and Smithsonian and Space Center museums.
Despite the fame, Cary Fisher said the space pens make up just a small percent of their business because they last a lifetime.
“If we were still a gravity-fed stick pen company, we probably wouldn’t be in business today,” Cary Fisher said. “We’re more than just that.”
Currently the company is trying to break into new industries, such as boating and oil. Its biggest customer is the military.
“We also want to reach sailors, hikers, adventurers and backpackers because our products are perfect for outdoor activity,” Matt Fisher said.
At the helm of an almost 100-employee company, Cary Fisher said he hopes to continue his father’s legacy.
“My dad was a real patriot,” said Cary Fisher. “(American history) is a huge part of our company’s identity and we’re very proud of it.”