You know what you don’t see much of anymore?



Mimeographing 1940, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

Mimeographing services. For decades, mimeographing reigned supreme as the cheap, easy way to make quality copies of printed materials, and every office of any size had one. A typist would set up a stencil, which would then be attached to a spinning drum. Ink would be squeezed through the stencil and onto the sheet of paper. They’re now often confused in our nostalgic minds with dittos, the fragrant medium of school tests that also went by the name of “spirit duplicators.” Dittos worked more like offset, with a mirror-image wax-coated master that printed where the wax wasn’t, usually in a purple ink. Both technologies suffered a bit from the rise of the Xerox-style photocopier, but were truly put to death by personal computers and printers. They are still in use in the developing world, apparently because they don’t require electricity.

You don’t see a lot of typewriting services, either. And the bottom dropped right out of the multigraphing market.

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