Copies, Copies Everywhere

Today in 1876, Thomas Edison received a patent for a “method of preparing autographic stencils for printing.” The term “mimeograph” to describe this duplicating machine was first used by Albert Blake Dick when he licensed Edison’s patents in 1887.

Hillel Schwartz in The Culture of the Copy: “The revolution in copying, taken broadly, had begun in the 1920s, when copying was already in the air. In the airwaves–as the Radio Corporation of America in 1926 began transatlantic radio facsimile service for transmitting news photos. In the rarefied air of national libraries and archives–as the Library of Congress, British Library, and Bibliotheque Nationale used photostat cameras to acquire rare materials or create catalogs, and as scholars and curators microfilmed manuscripts for research or preservation. In the most rarefied air, out past Saturn, around that new planet, Pluto, located in 1930 near the star o-Geminorum, close upon the stars named Castor and Pollux–where the A. B. Dick Company of Chicago saw ‘NEW WORLDS TO CONQUER’ for their Mimeograph machine: ‘Anything that can be written, typewritten or drawn in line, it reproduces at the rate of thousands every hour.'”

Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker in 2002:  “This is one of the great puzzles of the modern workplace. Computer technology was supposed to replace paper. But that hasn’t happened. Every country in the Western world uses more paper today, on a per-capita basis, than it did ten years ago. The consumption of uncoated free-sheet paper, for instance—the most common kind of office paper—rose almost fifteen per cent in the United States between 1995 and 2000.”

Eli Stein

“The paperless office is a myth not because people fail to achieve their goals, but because they know too well that their goals cannot be achieved without paper. This held true over thirty years ago when the idea of the paperless office first gained some prominence, and it holds true today at the start of the twenty-first century.”–Abigail Sellen and Richard Harper, The Myth of the Paperless Office, 2002

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