Saturday, May 5, 2012

THE LOST DITTO MACHINE

  
I don't know what year schools stopped using ditto machines to make copies, but it sounded a death knell to a process that was both tactile and sensory.  The Ditto Machine was originally called the "Spirit Duplicator" which was so named because of the alcohol solvents used to ink the pages.


Was it harmful to inhale?  Um. yeah.


This smell was so strong that fresh ditto copies prompted students to smell them.  In fact, many of us loved to smell the alcohol solvents still permeating the paper.  It's why I described the ditto copy as a sensory experience. 


This is what tests were printed on.  It was the way you received homework assignments.  It's how announcements, newsletters and permission slips were printed.  


I'm not sure what me me think of the lost ditto paper of my youth, but it was probably that strong chemical smell still bouncing around in my brain. 


The inkjet and laser printer have long since taken over and the extinction of the ditto machine is just another reminder of time's continuous march into the future.  













10 comments:

  1. I just tried to explain to my co-workers what a Ditto machine is as the origin of the common phrase, "Ditto". I was explaining the hand-crank, the sound...and oh the smell. Your blog post captures it perfectly. Thanks!!

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  2. so cool yes i remember. the teacher in 5th and 6th gr would go make copies and we could hear the clank of the rotations. and yes, the smell.it looked so mysterious. i know they complained about getting in on hands. but it was NON electric! very important to note. what if we needed to make fliers, nonelectrically? where would we go?

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  3. Actually, the term "ditto" comes from "dito", which is Latin (via "detto" in Italian, I think) and means "(exactly as) said". For some reason they were called "matrix winders" (Matritzenwickler) in Germany where I grew up.

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  4. This is so cool! I remember the ditto machine so well. I always had to snort my ditto copies. I can even remember the sound these machines made. You could hear it every time you walked the hallways, close to the principal's office. Such memories. I recently mentioned ditto machines to a friend of mine who is older than me and boy, did we go down memory lane! The youngsters have no idea what this is all about. They have missed out. I would not trade my time for anything.

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  8. I used the term ditto machine at work yesterday in an email and no one receiving the email knew what it was. Youngins!! I'm only 47 lol

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