Who Remembers Using One of These?

Warning:  You will be dating yourself!

mimeograph machine

The stencil duplicator or mimeograph machine (often abbreviated to mimeo) is a low-cost printing press that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. The mimeograph process should not be confused with the spirit duplicator process.

Mimeographs, along with spirit duplicators and hectographs, were a common technology in printing small quantities, as in office work, classroom materials, and church bulletins. Early fanzines were printed in this technology, because it was widespread and cheap. In the late 1960s, mimeographs, spirit duplicators, and hectographs began to be gradually displaced by photocopying and offset printing.

When I was in junior high, I worked part-time in the office at Seacraft Industries (my Dad’s scuba diving business) and learned to run that mimeograph machine.  When I was really young (5 or 6), I wrote (actually printed) and published a newspaper called The Neighborhood News which covered local news in the neighborhood like new babies, puppies, someone being sick, getting a new job, or moving, etc.  My Dad would run off copies on this same machine and I would sell them to the neighbors for 5 cents.  My love of writing and sharing information started at a very early age.  This summer Dad came to visit me at the gallery and brought an edition of The Neighborhood News that he had found.  It was still in amazingly good condition.  I don’t know what I did with it.

E.J. Lefavour

10 comments

  • I remember the smell of the mimeograph

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  • Oh yes, back in high school late ’60s. Brings back memories …

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  • Oh yes ~ I’ll admit it ~ I remember cranking the machine and the smell! I hope you find your first publication. Certainly enjoying your current post of “Gloucester News” ~

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  • …and the best thing about the mimeograph was the intoxicating aroma…
    ED Dove/Pirates Lane

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  • My dad had one. We had to address and stuff envelopes for his business.

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  • oh yes! when I taught school the kids wrote a little newspaper that I typed up [aghhh!!**!?!] and then ‘ran off’ for other students to enjoy. .. everyone loved that aroma – as well as the ‘news!

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  • We used to have a room at my office to make blueprints in the same manner except they were about 10 times as big as a regular sheet of paper with about 10 times as much ammonia. The room had no ventilation or windows and we dreaded having to go in there. Good times.

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  • Great story, how far we have come.

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  • Memory lane for sure and memory lane in 4th Kwang Ju SQ -5th Combat Communications,Group, Warner Robins AGB GA living in the tents or mobile vans, (USAF) even in late 70’s early 80’s we used to some older equipment at times KSR’s Teletype, SB-86 field phones, TTC-22 van, TGC 27 Van, TRN-26 torn tape relay yikes paper tape everywhere, teletype paper tape punch and punch cards. Technology we have come leap years ahead!! Thanks :-)

    Did I forget them royal typewriters where keys always got stuck together?

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    • Oh yes, I remember it well. I wasn’t assigned to any combat units but we used many of the same machines as well as a lot or morse code which I still keep a pad of paper on the coffee table to copy down whatever might be playing in old movies or newer commercials. But splicing paper tape together and using paper tape and punch cards on the crypto gear was high tech, before the wide spread use of satalites. I was in from ’73 to ’79 and using equipment I recognize from old WWII films. Unfortunately I never kept up with HAM radio but I never did have a place to hang my antenna, or hat for a long while.

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