Archived Story

Jo-Ann Boepple: We lived in a plugged-in world

Published 3:16pm Friday, April 15, 2011

I need some copies made. Easy! Right? Just push the right button or key and out comes the copy.

In years past it was not this easy. When I first started teaching, making worksheets was a difficult task. First you had to type the information on a special paper. Then press the sheet of paper on the gel and rub. Voila! A copy was made on the hectograph.

Next came the invention of the Spirit Duplicator, otherwise known as the ditto machine. No ink involved, just “spirits.” Once again you type the information on a smooth waxy sheet of paper and heaven forbid if you made a mistake.

Then that master went on the drum of a machine you filled with a smelly liquid. The first machines were turned by a crank , no electricity involved. This gave you a copy that was purple and that smelled of the chemicals.

Next came the mimeograph. They used a black ink that had to be put inside the drum. The ink got on your hands and under the fingernails and you had to wear if off. It didn’t wash off. If you got it on your clothes, that was the end of that. It too had a special stencil that had to be carefully typed with no mistakes.

The next great invention was the Thermofax. One waxy sheet of special  paper was placed on top of the original, heat was applied and an electronic copy was made. No ink! Magic!

With the advent of the computer a new type of copy printer machine came along. This one had special paper that had a strip along the side with holes in it. It was one long continuous roll of paper and the holes fit over the cogs on a wheel. If this got misplaced, your printed materials were off center and would be on two pages instead of one.

Next came a plain paper copier. The original goes in and copies come out. First they only came in black and white and then colored was added. Not everyone rushed to print their letters in living color.  Plain black was still the best.

With color came the capability to copy pictures, first black and white and then in color.

Now there are special photo printers even though you can print photos on your computer printer.

Now let’s get down to the main topic of these ramblings. I need a new printer. At least that is what I am told. Not just an ordinarily printer but a wireless one. Hooray!! Now I can get rid of all of those cords that run everywhere on my desk and floor.

At first I tried to keep the cords identified. I put sticky notes on them so I would know which equipment they were used for and what machines they matched. The notes fell off and alas, they next made them so that they plugged in on both ends. When you disconnect them, there are no identifying marks on them.

Why can’t they make a universal plug that works on every thing?

I have computer, printer, copiers, cell phone chargers, iPad charger, cord  to charge my lap top and land line phone connections, cords running everywhere. I had my home office wired with more outlets and I still don’t have enough. Now I added to that my modem for my wireless computer service, my office is full of blinking lights. Where will it end?

But back to the printer problem. They tell me a wireless printer will let me print from anywhere in my house. That means I can use my laptop or iPad and print from my bathroom if I need to. What wonders never cease? Now can I get rid of all of the cords and wires? Where are my copies?

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