A Sparkling Vintage Life

X is for Xerox

Okay, so this one’s a bit of a stretch. Hey, “X” words are hard!

Anyway, those of us who’ve worked in offices have much for which to thank the Xerox Corporation, namely the invention of the photocopier. Prior to that marvelous machine, typists had to make carbon copies, which involved stacking sheets of carbon paper between sheets of regular paper in order to type up several copies at a crack. In my first job at a bank, I remember stacking sheets of pink, yellow, green, and blue carbon paper behind the original stationery. Each color went into a different file, for a different purpose.

Prior to photocopiers, there were mimeograph machines, which made copies using stencils, and ditto machines, which used a chemical process. I’ve never used either of those machines, but my elementary school used a ditto machine and purple ink. I thought the chemical smell on freshly-printed copies was heavenly! But the ink fades over time, making dittos a poor choice for any kind of archival use.

The trade name Xerox is so associated with the photocopier that it’s become a noun (“I’m going to make a xerox of that page”) and even a verb (“Please xerox ten copies of this paper”). Of course now many other companies make photocopiers, too.

Have you ever used anything but a photocopier to make multiple copies?

One Response to X is for Xerox

  • JazzFeathers says:

    The company I work with (which own the bookshop where I work) also prints books and we do use a Xerox machine. Didn’t know it went back to the 1920s.

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