New Duplication Method Invented Today … in 1876!

Thomas Edison Patents an Improved Mimeograph

The youngest among you probably are wondering: What the heck is a mimeograph? Hopefully, you’re not wondering who in the heck Thomas Edison was, the prolific inventor who patented an improved process and received his patent on August 8, 1876. (Edison’s patent application, Rutgers Edison online archive)

Over the years, the mimeograph underwent refinement until some reading this might remember their teachers distributing lessons printed in blue ink on sheets giving off a distinctive alcohol-like fragrance. (An example from McMaster University Library, circa 1960)

If you were a teacher in the 1950s through the 1970s, you probably recall arriving at school early to use the machine before your fellow educators either exhausted the ink or the paper and you were left with zip to hand out.

For those old enough to remember the mimeograph, hopefully it’s a pleasant memory for you. For younger people, why not ask your parents or grandparents if they remember and then what memories they bring back, such as the dreaded history pop-quiz, or the alky aroma and high before second period?

Doubtless, one day in the future the photocopy will fade away, as has the mimeograph, and someone will have to remind us that yes, intact, such a thing did exist. w/c


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