Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xerox & Trees, 1962 -

Theme ~ My 50 Years in America

After such a fun week, driving through Texas and Arizona on Route 66, remembering the three universities where I worked, and sharing visits by my parents, it had to come to this: The dreaded letter X. In my previous A to Z Challenges, I used the railroad crossing X sign and the X-rated reputation of young Swedish women in the 1960s. So why, you ask, am I going with a boring old Xerox machine? And what's up with the trees?

Copy machine 

Simply because no other tool, until the computer, was as helpful to me in my working life. You see, I couldn't type. Before I worked myself up into a professional career at UCLA, I worked with numbers, accounting, budgets, and so on. I was a whiz with an adding machine; no one was faster than I with one hand. But I was lost with two. Coordinating my two hands and their 10 fingers to gain enough speed for a satisfactory, error free, result in the shortest time possible..... I was terrible. 

Back in the day, the Mad Men days, it was expected that women would know how to type. On a typewriter, at least they were electric by then, using as many of these:

Carbon paper

as needed to crank out the number of error free copies the boss required. When I worked for the economics professor at Princeton, they even had mimeograph machines. Never mind, carbon copies were bad enough for me. 

Someone came up with a few aids to help us lousy typists; there was this:

Correction tape, which I remember as smaller than this piece, but anyway, we had that. It worked OK as long as no copies were needed.

If all else failed, there was whiteout, a liquid that you wiped out your error with and hoped it wouldn't show. Lots of luck with that!  I don't remember when they came out, but they are still selling them online, I just found out. 

According to Wikipedia, office photocopying was introduced by Xerox in 1959, and it gradually (I'd say, very slowly, because they were very expensive at first) replaced copies made by Photostat, carbon paper, mimeograph machines, and other duplicating machines. 

I don't believe we had copy machines at UCLA in 1973 when I started there. They would arrive soon after, I believe. I remember being asked to type something with several copies for a manager and being unable to finish the task. Such a painful incident that it has stuck in my mind. No one there seemed to mind though since I was so good at budget stuff, which is why they hired me in the first place, but still......

Then Wikipedia adds, referring to the copy machine: The prevalence of its use is one of the factors that prevented the development of the paperless office heralded early in the digital revolution. 

My dear Xerox machine, and all you other copiers, while I do believe your days are numbered, I must tell you how very grateful I am that you appeared on the scene when you did. And remember, when the paperless office finally arrives, there will be so many happy trees! 

Yeah, said the trees!

Arbor Day was yesterday, but it's never too late to celebrate!

Source: Wikipedia & Google.


  1. you have jogged not so fond memories from the past of carbon paper, mimeograph machines. the mimeograph was the bane of my existence. i had purple ink all over me most of the time. we had one of those purple jelly looking things that we laid the paper on and then slid the thingy back and forth to make copies. i am so happy with the newest and best now and happy for the trees. you did great with the letter X

  2. Yes, how well I remember all the things you mention about office supplies of another era.
    Lovely trees. I love trees. I've even hugged a few. LOL

  3. I used to watch my Mom (typewriter whiz) play with her photocopier at her workplace. She was so adept with technology. I would loved to have witnessed her with the computer. I know she would have it down in a second.
    I took a typing course at university and am I glad I did. What I find now is ~~ I type too fast all the time and I'm always correcting. Words should automatically correct themselves as you type. Life would be so much easier.
    I am a tree hugger so HAPPY ARBOUR DAY!!!!!!!


  4. As I didnt know what career path I wanted to follow, I took tying and shorthand way back in high school. I became an RN and didnt really need either, but now in my old days, I enjoy knowing at least the typing part. You brought back memories for sure.

  5. Oh my, you refreshed so many of my memories - not all pleasant! I used to go through correcting tape faster than the ink tape (once I had a really modern typewriter that had the built-in correction tape!).
    Have a wonderful day!

  6. i worked a few carbon papers, mimeograph machines and lots of correction tape and white-out in my younger days as student secretary. how far we've come...

  7. I remember carbon paper and what a big deal it was when my dad's office got a xerox machine. I think I may have been the first kid in the office to xerox copy my face.
    On another note I am so glad that I found your blog during this whirlwind blogfest!

  8. Photocopying where I worked was a separate job, since we sent out instruction manuals and ongoing training info for a large corp (10,000 employees). That department became extinct after word processing came into effect. Then computers outdated the photocopiers.

    Technology has its good and not so good sides. Now we have our own copiers and scanners in our homes.

    I wasn't a great typist initially either, Inger.

  9. I knew how to mimeograph, once upon a time. Now I would just stare at the machine. I couldn't type on a typewriter, either.


  10. Manual typewriter before computer. (In fact, there was a time when I used computer on the weekend, and went back to a manual at work on Monday.) Gestetner before photocopier. So much change. And the trees keep dying. Sigh!

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

  11. Oh,won't that be nice? A paperless life?!

  12. I remember the day when a woman applied for a job--almost ANY kind of job--she was asked how fast she could type!!

  13. It's hard to remember what a pain typing was back before the days of word processing. Just seeing the pic of the correction tape made me shiver. I was also a terrible typist and used way too much of that stuff.

  14. Härligt inlägg. Kommer ihåg allt det där med, det var ju inte så länge sedan egentligen.....

  15. Those are not ancient items, are they? For me, they were awesome and enabled my teaching career. Mimeographs--I can still smell the liquid.

  16. Oh my Inger -- you brought back some bad memories of my when I was a secretary in a big bank. We used dictaphones for cripes sake. I am a fast typer, but not necessarily accurate. What a hateful job that was. I was so glad to get out of there! :)

  17. Isn't it amazing how much has happened in such a short time? My girls still can hardly believe that cell phones weren't invented before I was born. They think that makes me soooo old. ;)

  18. Times sure have changed since we were young, Inger!!!!...:)JP

  19. How fun to look back! I do remember the excitement when the Xerox machine arrived on the scene. We didn't even mind the 20 cents a copy or whatever it was just a miracle! I am a very good typist, but I wasn't as good with accounting. We can't be all things. LOL! Fun to look back, Inger. I don't think my grandchildren would even know what a typewriter is! :-)

  20. Ha Ha Memory lane with copy technology and typewriters ...and I do still use white out :)

  21. I remember always wanting a typewriter as a child,I loved it,never used it in a job.

  22. I still use white out on occasion (in New Zealand it's called Twink - how's that for a useless fact) and am so very glad that we don't still have to use those awful mimeograph machines.

  23. I felt your pain. I typed maybe worse than you. In high school my teacher promised to pass me only if I promised NOT to take typing II. I wore him out and he couldn't face another year of me. I remember being so thrilled with the invention of correct tape.
    Funny thing now is that with the keyboard, I type like a whiz. It only took me 50 years to learn.
    Thanks for the fun reminder of a not so fun time.

  24. Hi Inger .. X is a challenging letter to put it mildly .. but this is great and I love your take on it - reminding us of the old days. Thankfully I could type .. I suspect the numbers would have beaten me ...

    My favourite items was the telex ... I loved typing up the tape (correcting by xxxx bits out and starting again, or splicing it) ... and waiting patiently for a telephone line to Eastern Europe to become free ... I could eat lunch, have coffee, switch off ... it was a change from typing or telephoning manufacturers!

    Cheers Hilary

  25. X is a tough one but typing with carbon is tougher. That is what mom said. She said next time you do an A-Z Challenge you can take a Xanax!

    We're just trying to get caught up on our bloggy pals before the next Phase of the Painting Project begins on Tuesday!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  26. Oh, how happy I was to have the copier! It was almost impossible for me to type a perfect multiple copy form:( and I had to do a lot of them! I worked as a secretary for a lot of years and don't know what I would have done without one! Gone crazy, probably!!!

  27. Ah, those were the days. Hated those correcto type things and the bottle of white stuff that was always too thick.

  28. Hahaha! My one and only "D" was in high school for typing! Hate typing!

    Thank you for your kind comment, Inger.

  29. Yes, I still use White Out. They still have that annoying bottle that gums up and dries out, but I use the tape that is so easy and quick. Then I just scan it and print.

    Mistakes will always be made and covering them up will always be necessary.

  30. I love this one, Inger. You included a bit of women's history :)

  31. A wonderful look down memory lane! I remember my first job as a typist!

  32. My Mom was an excellent typer and I loved watching her type and not even look at the keys!!
    Amazing how we all have and continue to rely on technology at work and at home. 'Those days' Inger were fascinating to witness and then the emergence of the computer.
    Do you really think there will ever be a 'paperless office'? Seems now we use more and more.
    Great post!


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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