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Thursday, January 1, 2009

There was no "Collated" button on the Savage Gestetner duplicating machine ...

In these days of image scanning and digital printing one forgets that it is only a very few years since the time when there was no easy simple and quick method of duplication: photocopiers did not exist, let alone digital photocopiers.  For an account of the history of duplicating machines, see here or a linked list of duplicating processes, here

Nowadays, no-one thinks anything of pressing a few buttons to specify number of copies, single-sided, double-sided, collated and stapled.  People even get slightly exasperated at having to feed the copier with paper, toner and staples.  Press the button, and off to the pub while the print run chugs through.

Well, it wasn't always like that, as Dr Ferris recalls:

"Crickley Hill Man has recently posted some excellent abstracts of information from one of the interim reports on the excavations put out in the early 1970s. I recall that during the 1973 season Richard Savage asked for volunteers to assist in collating and stapling one of the runs of interim reports one evening at Ullenwood - probably the 1972 interim you have been abstracting. A number of us volunteered for this task, not realising quite how long it would take and that we would be missing out on the chance of even last orders in the Air Balloon. 

Richard had the individual printed sheets laid out in huge piles on tables in the lecture room at the end of the mess hall and we had to move around the table picking up single sheets in page number order until we had a full report for passing to Richard for stapling, and then we had to start our circling route again and again and again and again until the hundreds of sheets had been totally cleared off the tabletops. It took about four hours and we were each rewarded with a free copy of the bound report. This struck me as really exciting at the time and I didn't regret missing out on all those undrunk pints of GL cider. So maybe Crickley Hill Man's copy of the interim when dusted for fingerprints will reveal the imprint of the Ferris dabs or those of Dave Butler who I think also volunteered for this Herculean task."

The report was available at the time from Richard at a cost of 25p plus 5p postage.  If we ignore the postage, a free copy of the report meant that Iain and Dave were remunerated in kind at the equivalent of a princely rate of 5¼ pence per hour.  Or slightly more than a 1973 first class postcard stamp, which was then 3½ pence.  Luxury beyond the dreams of avarice.  

Happy New Year!

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