Slavoljub Penkala

Slavoljub Penkala

The great Croatian inventor, Slavoljub Penkala was born on the 20th of April in 1871. He was born in the Slovak town of Liptovsky St. Miklauš named Eduard. With moving to Zagreb, it changes it into Croatian name Slavoljub.

Life in Slovakia

From his early childhood, Penkala had an interest in physics, chemistry and mechanics. He disassembled and reassembled clocks to study their mechanism. Penkala especially enjoyed watching the butterflies whose wings silhouette would be responsible for the realization of a great dream.

After finishing the elementary and high school, he started studying medicine in Vienna. Penkala soon quited medical proffesion and enrolled at the Royal Technical University in Dresden, where he graduated in Chemical Engineering. He spoke five foreign languages and was an exquisute musician, even though he was only an amateur.
Life in Croatia

After the wedding with pianist Emilia Stoffregen, they moved to Zagreb. Their home became then The Square of Emperor Franz Joseph, house number 15 (in present day it is Square of King Tomislav number 17) became their home. Penkala later opened his first workshop there at that adress.

Ministry of Finance in Budapest appointed him as a Royal measures controller. Penkala signed oath to Ministry of Finance, with Croatian name Slavoljub. That change wasn’t approved by Hungarians, while Croatian public was thrilled with Penkala’s patriotism. In that period, Croatia was under strong influence of Hungary.

Work and inovations

Penkala was intensely devoted to inventing his work. During his career, he patented eighty inventions in the fields of mechanics, chemistry, physics and aeronautics.

His first invention was a bottle, forerunner of a thermos bottle in 1903. That was followed by rotating toothbrush, detergent in which none of the investors didn’t see the potential. He even patented manometer, helicopter rotor blades, insecticide, anode battery and flashlight.

On 24th of January in 1096. he patented that made him famous. It was a mechanical pencil that he patented under his surname – penkala. Product became famous worldwide. So he could keep up with immense orders, Penkala signed collaboration with industrialist and invetor Edmund Moster. They co-founded the Penkala –Moster company in Zagreb. The company is now known as TOZ – Zagreb Pencil Factory.

Every free moment of his time, Penkala has spent enjoying outdoors with his son. He was especially drawn to by butterfly called Neptis Lucilla. Because of its wing silhouette, Penkala got the idea for construction of first aeroplane in Croatia and in this part of Europe. Aeroplane, called Neptis Lucilla had his first flight in June of 1910. For first successful flight credits went to first Croatian pilot, Dragutin Novak. Penkala invested by himself entire profit from selling all of his other inventions in the realization of the project.

Penkala suddenly died on the 5th of February in 1922. Many people came to his funeral. There is a monument placed in his honor in Park of great scientist of Croatian science and technology in Technical museum, city of Zagreb. The last goodbye his friends said by using the words: Creator of Penkala left his name for eternity.