In 1959 Xerox released the 914 photocopier. It weighed 648 pounds, but it was a huge improvement over previous document copying technologies, which used wet chemicals.
In this month's Smithsonian, Clive Thompson writes about how Xerox changed the way people worked and played.
Some highlights from Clive's piece:
- Xerox expected customers would make about 2,000 copies a month—but users easily made 10,000 a month, and some as many as 100,000. Before the 914 machine, Americans made 20 million copies a year, but by 1966 Xerox had boosted the total to 14 billion.
- The bizarre welter of things being replicated made even the folks at Xerox worry they had unleashed Promethean forces. “Have we really made a contribution by making it easier to reproduce junk and nonsense?” as Sol Linowitz, CEO of Xerox International, fretted in Life magazine.
- “There were these copies where you had a Rorschach blot and you had to fold it and hold it up to the light, and there were people having sex in more positions than you could imagine,” says Michael Preston, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who published an early collection of what he called Xerox-lore—the folklore of the copying age.
- “Xerography is bringing a reign of terror into the world of publishing, because it means that every reader can become both author and publisher,” Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1966.
- These days, Congress is working hard—often at the behest of movie studios or record labels—in the opposite direction, making it harder for people to copy things digitally. But back in the first cultural glow of the Xerox, lawmakers and judges came to the opposite conclusion: Copying was good for society.
RELATED: Clive Thompson on the Cool Tools Show podcast.
David Robinson used the data from the 28,657 people who self-selected to take the Stack Overflow survey to investigate the relationship between programmer pay and the conventions of using either tabs or spaces to mark indents, and found a persistent, significant correlation between using spaces and bringing home higher pay.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]
Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? […]
As the old saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy, in which case you should meditate for an hour.” Since most of us have an endless list of things to do and people to see, carving out quiet time can feel impossible, especially when most […]