Obsolete Technology: Summer Quarters

Several questions spring to mind: Why is Baker headquartered at Lovett? Who is the woman? And what on earth is that machine?

Obsolete technology Baker 1976

Does it make copies in some convoluted fashion?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Obsolete Technology: Summer Quarters

  1. Richard A. Schafer says:

    Almost certainly that’s a mimeograph machine. You can see the AB Dick supplies on the shelf above it. Yes, it’s a copying machine, which used stencils created on a typewriter, forcing ink through the text on the page onto the paper of the copies. Why Baker’s office was in Lovett I don’t know, although perhaps there was some renovation going on that year in the usual space?

  2. Wendy Kilpatrick Laubach '78 says:

    You were kidding, right? 🙂 You’re not that young.

    I was at Rice in ’76, but I don’t remember anything about summer offices. Maybe they consolidated several colleges’ offices in one building to save on AC? The colleges were generally empty then, right?

  3. Syd Polk says:

    I’m pretty sure that is a mimeograph machine. Don’t know about the other questions, though.

  4. Dan Wagner says:

    It’s a mimeograph machine. Remember the smell?

  5. almadenmike says:

    Stencil-based duplicators like this and “ditto” machines (which were simpler to use, but produced far fewer and, in general, lower-quality prints than stencils) were popular low-cost, non-professional printing devices in the mid-20th century. We used stencils, for example, to print the Baker “Vitis” publication. Correcting typos and torn stencils with a quick-drying glue was a valuable skill.

    Hand-drawn-diagrams and typed text on dittos copies had a dull, sightly out-of-focus blue-to-nearly-purple appearance. Stencils could be printed with whatever ink color was in the machine. (But changing ink colors was a mess.) Hand-drawn figures had to be carefully made on stencil masters with a metal stylus so that the master was punctured sufficiently to let the ink through in the duplicating process, but not torn, which would ruin the entire master if it could not be repaired.

  6. marmer01 says:

    Really? The bulk of your grade-school and high-school handouts weren’t mimeographed? I would think anyone our age would know all about that. Also the whap-whap-whap sound they make and the stories of a male teacher’s tie getting caught in one? I remember them being used even after photocopies were fairly widely available because they were still cheaper for mass handouts.

  7. Richard A. Schafer says:

    Mimeograph was better than Thermofax, another obsolete tech, unless you were creating transparencies. Thermofax copies were terrible because of the special paper required.

  8. That looks like Nancy Dingus Crites (Baker ’78) running the machine, which I agree looks like a mimeograph as opposed to a Ditto machine, but its hard to tell for sure.

    Ditto machine copies smelled like rubbing alcohol, as isopropyl alcohol was used to soften the “ink” on the ditto master, as the blank paper was pressed against the master. The more copies you made off of a Ditto master, the less ink was left. One could increase the roller pressure to get more copies, but that blurred the image even more.

    Mimeograph copies just smelled like whatever the solvent in the ink was, which I can’t remember.

    Another process used on campus back then for large sheet copies was the blueline, or blueprint process, which used ammonia as a developer/fixer, and was generally hated by all who used it, especially as the copies rapidly faded if left in the sunlight.

    As for “summer offices”,I remember they shut down a lot of the residential buildings during the summer back in the mid 70’s. In the spring of 1977, we had to move the KTRU-FM transmitter from the top of Sid Rich to a room off the SR loading dock so that we would not have to go through the main building or use the elevators during the summer shutdown. To make that move, we had to run a lot of expensive Heliax presurized coax cable down an abandoned garbage chute, which Buildings and Grounds paid for. Apparently that cost was thought to be cheaper than the energy penalty for not mothballing the building for the summer. I always wondered how much money was really saved.

    Cleaning an old garbage jam out of the chute and then hauling that heavy Heliax up the same by hand is a story all by itself.

    • I think I helped with that Heliax pull. I know I have photos of putting up an antenna on top of Sid Rich. It must have been early Spring because I remember it was really cold.

      • I was down in the basement feeding the cable down a hall and around a couple of corners as it was being hand hoisted up. I zip-tied a can of beer to the top end of the coax as a present for the tuggers up top. Unfortunately it got knocked off along the way. I head it falling down the chute to where I was working, so I managed to get out of the room before the predictable result of a can of beer falling 14 stories occurred.

      • head = heard

  9. almadenmike says:

    Here’s a link to a short article that gives the origins of the mimeograph (1887), spirit duplicator (popularized via A.B. Dick’s “Ditto” brand) (1923) and another duplication technology: http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/40/408.html.

    Some of the early mimeograph patents were by Thomas Edison!

  10. At my high school, students who were scheduled as student assistants got a lot of hours running these machines and creating stencils and masters. Students who got detention also got to learn how to run these machines. So, needless to say, it was a common skill, and I got the opportunity in more than one way.

  11. mjthannisch says:

    Any one remember Pelikan. They were Dick’s main competitor, especially overseas.

  12. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    In my day we used a Big Chief tablet and either a black or a blue crayon.

  13. Barney L. McCoy says:

    Back in the 60s you could always spot the young bombthrowers on campus: they all had purple fingers from the mimeograph and ditto machines.
    Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  14. Clark Herring says:

    I also think that is Nancy Dingus Crites Baker 1978 in the picture

  15. Nancy Dingus Crites is teaching in Hannover, Germany now. My internet search skills are very good, but I can’t quite get an e-mail address for her. Someone who knew her better could friend her on LinkedIn.


Leave a Reply to Syd PolkCancel reply