Early Office equipment Printing Method in the late 1800s

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Published: 09th January 2009
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Early table top office printing equipment was a device built as a wooden box, this box was slightly larger than the size of paper known as foolscap, the box was fitted with a slate top, onto the side of the box was a hinged frame, stretched across the hinged frame was a silk screen material the size of the foolscap paper. Paper covered with a thin wax the size of the foolscap screen was designed which became a stencil and by using a metal pencil style sharp point known as a stylus one could draw or write, later with the advent of the typewriter, by dismantling the ribbon, the stencil could be typed on the waxed paper, by using the sharp stylus it would displace the particles of wax and paper to the writing or drawing this became the master sheet, this master sheet was attached face down onto the silk screen frame which was in the open position so when closed would be abutting the slate top of the box, the frame was opened up to allow a piece of paper to be placed on the slate top, the frame was closed on the paper, and then by using a roller which had a handle attached the roller was covered with a felt material the width of the foolscap paper, the method was to sparingly roll the roller in a tray of ink .the roller would be then be used to transfer the ink to the silk screen by rolling the roller inside the frame, the silk screen regulated the ink by pressure, ink would be forced through the displaced particles of the waxed paper master sheet onto the paper, thus giving an identical copy( facsimile) of the waxed paper drawings or writing. By opening the hinged frame and repeating the procedure as many copies of the facsimile could be produced. This entire process was accomplished well before the invention of ink cartridges or toner cartridges.

The master sheets were stored and repeatedly used. This was the first time that information could be mass produced cost effectively to a world audience, and has led to the development of modern printers using ink cartridges and toner cartridges.

Development 1900 An invention at the beginning of the nineteenth century by David Gestetner was the Gestetner Rotary Duplicator Ink and Stencil machine. This machine became a popular office machine throughout the business world. Other duplicators were invented at the same time.

The Gestetner was a compact machine; it had two small cylinders fixed in a frame placed horizontally on top of each other. Small bands on both side of the cylinders were designed to revolve the cylinders simultaneously, a continuous silk screen was placed around the outside of the cylinders, slightly larger than foolscap paper. Modern style ink cartridges were not used, instead ink was placed on to the cylinders and regulated through the silk screen. A stencil attached onto the silk screen with the details written, typed or drawn on the prepared area for transfer of the ink. The machine was operated by turning the handle with the cylinders revolving simultaneously, timed in the motion for the stencil to meet an impression roller made of solid rubber a quarter the size in diameter of the cylinders that was placed in the frame immediately below the bottom cylinder bringing pressure between the bottom revolving cylinder. The pressure revolved the impression roller, paper was fed from a tray attached adjacent to the opening where the impression roller met the stencil. As the two revolved, the paper passed between the bottom revolving cylinder and the revolving impression roller, the ink would be forced through the impressions on the stencil printing on to the area of the paper identical to the details cut into the stencil. One revolution of the handle printed one copy of the details on the stencil, the facsimile copy would be accepted by the receiving tray.

This procedure resulted in copies produced at the speed of the turning handle, without the need for ink cartridges or toner cartridges. In later years an electric motor was attached, the paper feed, cylinders and ink supply became automated resulting in hundreds of copies to be run in a short period of time.

1959-1960-Current In 1959 the plain paper copier Photocopier stormed the office world. Xerox developed an entirely new procedure and made the Ink and Stencil Duplicator obsolete. These photocopiers used a toner cartridge not unlike the modern toner cartridges in use today.

1970 Dot Matrix Printers working through the Computer as developed in U.S.A. and Brother Of Japan. Despite the introduction of commercial laser printers using toner cartridges in the 1980s, these remained popular due to their low cost and reliability. Instead of using ink cartridges, Dot Matrix printers use a print head striking an ink-soaked ribbon to imprint onto the paper. These were the last major type of printer before modern printers using ink cartridges took over in the 1990s.

1984- 2008 Xerox was the first company to produce a laser printer intended for a single PC in 1981, however its high price prevented it from becoming widely popular. HP followed three years later with a lower cost model designed for mass production. Both used a toner cartridge similar to the ones Xerox used in their photocopiers 20 years earlier. Since then, the market for low cost printers has flourished, with sub-$100 monochrome laser printers using a single toner cartridge readily available for home office or small business use. Basic colour laser printers using at least two toner cartridges are priced only slightly higher. More expensive models usually have at least 4 toner cartridges. These printers have a much lower cost and are more compact than the original offerings available from HP and Xerox. They offer far higher print quality and speeds with cheaper toner cartridges. HP toner cartridges, Xerox toner cartridges, and toner cartridges from various other manufacturers are now widely available to suit modern laser printers.

By Arnold Luby. Arnold was employed by Gestetner duplicating company in 1950 and has continued a successful business career of 56 years in the Office Equipment industry. He now sells ink cartridges and toner cartridges at http://www.thriftyink.com.au

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