Who Remembers Using One of These?
Warning: You will be dating yourself!
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.