The good ole days …

There was some mention in the main forum about carbon papers, stencils, and razor blades to correct those.  I’m wondering about other things from the good ole days of typing.  Anyone had to type green stencils for mimeograph?  Anyone remembers the old copy machines?  Erasing pencils for carbons?  Blue dittos with the alcohol-based duplicators?  Having to ink mimeographs?  Gestetner vs Roneo?

BTW, I’m not that old — I learned a lot in junior high school  …

(by Carlos for

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  1. The oldest duplicating technology I remember was in elementary school.  The machine loudly turned paper over a drum, and the copies came out… purple, if I remember.  As far as typwriters, I still use one for my job, but it is packed with nice modern features.  Are printing calculators old fashioned yet?  Well I have the Cadillac: Victor 1570-5.  Oh yea, baby!

  2. The only thing I can think of is that I used an old manual typewriter because personal computers were expensive and we had to go to a second hand store found a really old one.  They still sold ribbon at the store, too.  I was surprised my fingers didn't get skinny because of all the pressing I did.  I couldn't believe people got fast on those things.   How about the electric ugly brown typewriters, without correction, learning how to type classes.  The keys also had to be pressed pretty hard too.  comapred to other typewriters and the computer keyboard.  Debbi

  3. I'm not THAT old either, Chuck, despite the fact that I typed carbon sets, used a razor blade to "erase" on ditto masters, and typed mimeo stencils (and then cranked the drum to produce copies).

    But the best thing ever was my very first memory machine, a Memory 100 from I.B.M. I could record, play back, and correct typewritten material rather than retype it all. (Yes, before memory machines, massive corrections which would cause page breaks to change required us to literally cut apart the copy, tape it together, white out the lines where pages joined together, and use the copy machine to produce a "clean" page.) The Memory 100 had a dial on the right where I could select a memory location to record my keystrokes. There was a set of buttons over the dial to move foward in memory one character, word, sentence, or paragraph. It was a blind machine–one without a screen–and it completely baffled the other secretaries in the office but I thought it was amazing! NO MORE RETYPING! Corrections were a breeze! Hard to believe, but I liked this machine even better than my proportional spacing I.B.M. with the split spacebar. (Remember MANUALLY justifying text?)

    As I recall, I filled the memory of that machine in no time so it wasn't too long before TPTB replaced it with a stand-alone Wang, a real word processor (with a video screen). Remember 8" floppies, folks?

    I never typed on a mag card machine (I had plenty of friends who did) but I did create paper tapes for use on the telex which ran at a miraculous 300 baud. OK, miraculous for those times.

    OK, maybe I AM older than I want to think. . . .



  4. No, John.  NO SCREEN AT ALL.  You'd call up the memory location and either print the whole thing out and then start or dig out your file copy and hope you had the most recent version.   Believe me, awful as it sounds today, it was a miracle!  Once one got the hang of it, it wasn't difficult at all.   Marc  

  5. Ah, yes, the Memory 100's from IBM. I believe we had them in my shorthand classroom back in 1977. Our teacher didn't like them, because we could edit our transcriptions and print them out letter perfect. We, of course, liked them for exactly that same reason.   The old technology that I most remember (not particularly fondly) is Getstetener (I've probably spelled that wrong) wax stencil copying machines. We had to cut the stencil in half to type on one side of a sheet in landscape mode, then glue the two halves together. Corrections were done with this pink stuff that smelled like nail polish remover. (My dad, a minister, used to have me do a column in the church newsletter "Sick and Shut-ins" for which I as often as not transposed the vowels–talk about embarrassing!) There was this goopy black ink that also smelled really bad. Was I ever glad when we finally got a photocopier!   Jim

  6. Yes, we used all of those in Oz too.
    Did you ever use Fordigraph machines with their crank-type handles? Fordigraph stencils came in a number of colours, especially purple, red, blue and green.
    The problem with the printouts was that they invariably faded. (Maybe it was because of the climate where I was teaching at the time, which was similar to that of the U.S. states of Utah and Nevada – hot in the day, cold at night, low humidity most of the time).
    I used them often for notes and diagrams for the students in my high-school Geography classes but they were hard to read after only a few months. I never used the yellow and orange stencils because those colours were too difficult to distinguish, even when newly run-off.
    But they were really great to use and a definite boon to teachers because you could differentiate so easily between different parts of very complicated diagrams with the range of colours available. I know that my students appreciated them for that reason and also for the fact that they added some colour to the otherwise monochrome nature of their notes.

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  7. Ray,   Your Fordigraph sounds much like a Getstetner would sound. I remember vividly the ca-chunk, ca-chunk of the machine running off page after page. The Getstener used a waxed paper sheet that was cut with a stylus or typewriter with the ribbon not engaged, which was mounted on a drum. Ink flowed through the cuts on the wax stencil onto the paper.   From the sounds of things, the Fordigraph worked much more like the spirit duplicators (ditto machines) we used to have in school. They had a variety of colours, of which purple was the cheapest and so most common. I remember the teachers cutting up the other colours for putting spot colors on an otherwise purple master. I don't remember their fading over time, but I do remember their reeking of alcohol when they were fresh.   Jim

  8. You're absolutely right about the alcohol smell, Jim. One of the first things the kids would do is sniff their newly copied handouts and either express their love of the smell or wrinkle their noses up in disgust! And yes, they were definitely spirit duplicators. 

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  9. Ray,   You're absolutely right about the alcohol smell, Jim. One of the first things the kids would do is sniff their newly copied handouts and either express their love of the smell or wrinkle their noses up in disgust! And yes, they were definitely spirit duplicators.   Yup, I remember all of the above (in the first post), and, in re to what you said, the rumor was (now-a-days it would be regarded as an Urban Legend or some such) that if the teach came in with a bundle of freshly produced materials to hand out to the class, if you inhaled deeply enough you'd get high. If you didn't get high, you were definitely not trying hard enough LOL!   After we moved back here to Simi, last year, I was going through some boxes we had in storage and I decided to dump some stuff. I still had a few pages from grade school of those old ditto papers — unfortunately, they smelled kind of musty, but it sure brought back memories.   Seeing we're doing the remember when bit, anyone ever work keypunch, breadboards, sorters/punches, etc? My Honey and I were kicking around a Big Lots before Christmas, looking for some cheap stocking stuffers for ourselves, and we found some DVDs of the old Dragnet series. In a lot of those episodes they showed the old sorters when trying to track down the nere-do-wells (high tech at that time).   Also, I remember when one of my co-workers brought in his IBM PC and proudly displayed his two floppy drives! Seeing we were in Systems and Operations Support, we made a concerted effort to see if we couldn't hook up a Bell 2400 modem to it — we eventually did, so many of us went out, spent a good deal of $$ on the PC, and managed to access the mainframe from home at a whopping 300 baud! Of course, most of our editing of JCL and our small programs was done in text mode — couldn't get TSO to work on those suckers for quite a while (until we figured out a few things with the system control blocks, and such like) heh.   When my Hon and I got our first 10 Meg HD we were scratching our heads, wondering how we would ever fill that thing up! (Didn't take long!!)   John Simi Valley, CA

  10. Ray, some of us used key punch machines, paper tape, and, yes, there was a time when a 300 baud modem was AMAZING.  Remember dialing the phone (rotary, of course!) to connect?   About ten years later, my first home computer, a "portable" Kaypro (CPM operating system) weighed in about 50 pounds.  It had 2 hard drives (10K each) and 2 floppy drives.   And I'll not mention that at work (I work for a state university) we're STILL using COBOL flat files to maintain all our data.  Tyler, please don't faint!   Marc  

  11. John,

    So much of what you talk about brings back memories.

    I worked in an office during the summers of my university days (late 70's, early 80's) and I remember typing ever so carefully on a telex machine–because if you didn't keep up your rhythm, the stupid thing would disconnect you.

    I remember connecting to AOL on a 300 baud modem from my Commodore 64, and thinking that that was great. These days, I complain about my ADSL connection's not being fast enough.

    And my first IBM clone was bought with wedding money. It had a whole megabyte of memory(!) and a 20 mb hard drive, that we were told we would never fill up in a million years. I upgraded it within six months, when Windows came out.


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