MARS-770: History and analysis

In this post I hope to discuss the history of what was STAEDTLER’s first 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm mechanical pencil and review it.

According to the STAEDTLER chronicle the first mechanical pencils with the name “MARS” and model number 770 appear for the first time in the 1969 product assortment but made their first “debut” in the English catalogue of 1970.

It came in a polystyrene case along with a detachable clip, cleaning pin, HB leads and instructions on how to use the pencil.

It was also featured in drafting sets:

PS: of course the later versions were most likely included in drafting sets as well, but I wasn’t able to find any pictures online.

The MARS-770 0.7 was also included in drafting sets but I couldn’t find any image.

The MARS-770 over the course of the 8 years it existed, had 4 changes/versions that I consider significant enough to differentiate between them.

First version

The first version of MARS-770 was produced from 1970-1973 – it had two “generations”:

  • 1st generation

[Yes, the internals are all metal (brass)]

  • 2nd generation:



PS: The internals, tip, clip, everything between the 1st and 2nd versions is THE SAME except the push button, they “merged” the cleaning pin with the push button and the pencil no longer came with the lone pin.

Second version

The second version of MARS-770 started being produced in 1973, under the name “MARS-MICROGRAPH”. The catalogue “Only for specialist trade” from 1973 is the first time that the pencils use this name.

Besides the name, the orientation of the lettering also changed along with the packaging that was now a cardboard box.

In the first version the lettering is oriented and positioned pretty much on the opposite side, in a way that it’s upside down when writing with your right hand.

Third version

The third version of MARS-770, now called MARS-MICROGRAPH started being produced probably in late 1973 or early 1974, the pencil changed once again, now with the 1973-2001 logo of STAEDTLER and ISO coloring on it’s barrel to differentiate the lead sizes, the tip is considerably different from the past two versions.



Fourth version

The last version had the name changing to MICRO, the color changing to dark blue and now “GERMANY” was written on the same side as the name of pencil and branding. Here it’s pictured with the two early versions of MICROGRAPH HS 77105. Knowing that by 1978 the 770 model number was now reserved to the MICROGRAPH F, one can assume this version used 775 as it’s number, considering that’s the one the MICRO line used. I consider this the last version of the MARS-770 and the first version of the MICRO 775 due to the clear similarities, specially in the grip, push button, clip, and tip (same as the one used in third version).

Except for the fourth version (I’m unsure about it’s internals) all versions had all metal brass internals – including the lead tube of course.

Now onto the review, the pencil has a very nice feel to it, the exterior is plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap at all, it feels solid. The center of mass is a bit more towards the rear (in the AE of “STAEDTLER”) than I usually like, but since the pencil is quite light that’s not a problem.

The original lead is HB MARS-LUMOGRAPH 250 0X, it is of course scratchy and I do not recommend using it at all! It’s scratchy and quite light, it’s not hard to see the lines it makes but you are way way better off using any modern HB, B or 2B lead (I personally prefer B).

The grip is short but if you can feel comfortable holding the pencil in a way your fingers grip the dedicated area, it does the job, not as good as proper knurling of course but it will definitely manage to keep the pencil from slipping from your fingers unless you have sweaty hands.

I was afraid of the clip getting in the way when rotating the pencil, of course it’s detachable but I prefer to use it. Thankfully I was wrong, while the clip does “hit” my hand, I barely feel it and it doesn’t annoy me.

I can’t really explain why but the feel of the pencil is perfect, it doesn’t have anything special, no lead hardness indicator or even an eraser but I like it that way. A real no frills pencil, maybe too much. But it does it’s job perfectly, it feels great to use, has a nice design that reminds me of a wood pencil and it feels like it will easily outlive me if I take care of it properly. And it is a piece of mechanical pencil history or at least of STAEDTLER’s history. Their first fine-lead drafting holder as they call it.

Hats off to them, it’s hard to get things right when you do it the first time but they did it. One thing to me is sure, from the 0.5mm pencils I own the MARS-770 gives me the best feeling when writing, it might be simple but that’s great! It’s insanely reliable. The only drawback to me is the center of gravity.

Edit: it’s so annoying that I accidentally posted this before finishing it. :sweat_smile: