In Memoriam of Copiers Terms and Features from Days Gone By


'In memoriam' is a Latin phrase that directly translates as "into memory".

I really wasn't sure how to title this blog, and thought long and hard about how to get my message across in the title.

Back in August of this year I started a forum thread on the P4P Hotel forums titled "Copier Terms/Language from days gone by".  We had a few old timers that chimed in (including me) to post those terms and language that we just don't see anymore in our industry.

What started all of this,  was the word "skyshot". I had used it in a sentence one day in the office in and I noticed that no one knew what the heck I was talking about. Of course I had to explain, that a "skyshot" is when you leave the "platen" top (oops there are no more platen tops) in the open position and then press the copy button.  Today, you can do the same by leaving the document feeder in the open or up position.  The result is a black image over the entire document.  Well, not the entire document, because with most copiers aka MFP's there are "void" areas.  Oh, there I went again.  When was the last time you or someone mentioned a void area on the print?

Believe it or not there were times during our demonstrations when we produced a "skyshot" from the copy machine and then showed it to the decision maker.  Back then you had to have really awesome image quality and in most cases it was a gamble if you did the "skyshot".  It was kind a hit and miss since humidity and paper moisture played a big part in making sure the entire page was solid black.  Thinking back, the best blacks and "skyshots" came from Toshiba copiers. I hated demoing against those because the black was very dense and coverage of the page was exceptional.

Anyone remember CROP codes?  Have no idea what CROP meant, but with Sharp copy machines only you could press four different buttons on the key panel and access a meter read of the device.  Since the LED display only displayed two numbers at a time, you had to wait for the entire sequence to finish in order to get the full meter read.

"Knockouts" was a term that we used for large black areas on the page.  In most cases there was a black square and the type (font) would be white.  Thus, the reason for calling that image a "knockout".  I can tell you that I lost many sales because another device had a blacker or more dense "knockout" than what I was offering. Decision makers would actually save copies from the demo's to compare with other copiers.  We used to say, that if you left the demo without the order the chances of closing that order dropped by 75%.

Wow, "Dispersant", a little before my time, but I learned how to be a tech by working on old copiers that used a liquid dispersant. I guess you could call it a developer by today's standards. It was a mess to deal with and stained your skin and reeked havoc with suites, shirts, ties. You name it dispersant stained it.

I still have a large bottle of this in my garage and it's called "Fuser Oil".  Back in the eighties almost every device used fuser oil (clear, light weight oil) and we sold them like hot cakes.  If you had a plain paper copier you needed fuser oil.  At my dealership we had a hot shot supply sales person (Gene Trout), he would sell a few thousand dollars of fuser oil per month!  But wait, that's not all, fuser oil had many uses other than copiers.  We used it to clean the covers of the copiers (added a light sheen to those used copiers), used it to clean the power cord (when selling a used machine, a dead give away that it was over used was a filthy power cord). 

Outside of the office, fuser oil was great for cleaning and rejuvenating any and all rubber parts on your car. Excellent for adding a shine to your tires, in addition we also used it on the interior.  Yes, fuser oil was the "poor mans" Amour All.

My word, it's a "Plain Paper Copier"!  Plain paper copier was something that we used in our telephone scripts.  Before plain paper there was coated paper (dang, other term coated paper). "Coated paper" was much more expensive than plain paper and in most cases those copy machines that used coated paper had so so quality.  Everyone, I mean everyone had to have a plain paper copier. It was like keeping up with the Jones.

Betcha you didn't know that most copiers could not automatically produce a two sided copy.  The rule of the demo was "simplex" (there I go again with simplex).  Simplex means a single sided copy. In most copiers you could flip the copied paper and then flip the original on the glass, and then pass the simplex copied paper into the by-pass tray to make your own two-sided copy.  However, you had to know which side to face up in the by-pass tray and do you insert the "lead edge" or the "trail edge" first!

It wasn't until sometime in the eighties that the manufacturers manufactured copiers with "Duplex Trays".  Geesh, let me explain, once one side of the paper was copied, those pages were  stored in a tray in the copier.  When it came time to copy the back side the paper was flipped and passed through the imaging area again, thus putting an image on the back side of the paper.  Demonstrating two sided copying with duplex trays was painful. You told everyone it could be done and when asked to perform a demonstration, all we could do it cross our fingers and hope there was no jamming. 

The rule of thumb with all demo's was KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid), only demo what the decision maker was interested in seeing!

"Push button color" was a feature/term that we used for copiers that had dual developing units in them. I think there were three colors which were black, red, blue and green.  With the push of the color button you would engage the color developer unit and the image would come out in all red, blue or green.  You could only keep two colors the copiers at one time.

Manufacturers thought they would add an editing board to enhance dual color copiers. OMG, you want to talk about a cluster ****!  The technology would allow you to produce two colors in one pass and the "editing board" allowed you to edit what portion of the image would be black or red.  Let me tell you, this was a whole heck of a lot of **** to learn.  A piss poor demo resulted in a NO SALE!

Did you know that most brand new copiers also came with a "copier cover"?  "Why do I need a cover?" A cover is a vital part in keeping your copier free of dust and contaminates when not in use.  You want to protect your investment. Thinking back the covers probably cost about fifty cents to manufacturer.  You see back then, demonstrating copiers was all about the sizzle!

What is the heck is a "key operator"?  Is that the person who guards the keys to the office? Nope, it was the person who was in charge of the copier.  Every office had the one go to person that you would give extra training to for paper jams, adding toner, removing mis-feeds and knowing how to uses the different features of the copier.  As a sales person you needed to make sure your key operator knew it all, because you did not want to go back and do the training all over again.

It's late and there are many more terms that I haven't mentioned, however I need to write some orders tomorrow.  Thus, we'll close with "clam shell design”. In the golden age of copiers, all copiers jammed. Don’t care who the manufacturer was they didn’t feed paper that well. Thus, a few of the manufacturers, well at least Minolta designed their copiers to open like a clam in order for the user to remove the mis-feed. This was definitely a feature you wanted to demo, and most attendees were marvel at the technology.

It was all about FAB (feature, advantage, benefit) and KISS (Keep it simple stupid)

Special thanx to all of the Print4Pay Hotel Members that made this blog possible!

-=Good Selling=-

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Comments (4)

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This post takes me back to when i got into the industry in 1972 in the UK. Started on the wet copiers AB Dick 625 and got through more ties that i care to count due to dispersant. We had a tech that run out of petrol in the company van and a bottle of this (not premix) in his fuel tank allowed him to drive to the nearest garage!

Also remember working on the 3M (Scotch Copiers) that required the user to use 2 special sheets of paper- 1 Light Sensitive for the image and the other heat sensitive. Used to take a couple of minutes to get an average copy out. Just a light box, glass, a timer and a heat roller.Light bulbs lit up exposing the pink paper.When you changed the light bulbs we usually had to use a black marker to shade the bulb otherwise the prints were too light in the middle!!


Don,t forget the "Moving Top" copiers or the wall mounted copier ( Eskofot or SCM i believe?)

I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed your post!  Found the site by Googling "SCM copy machine" and it turned up Art Post's Memory Lane a couple days ago and had to join the group. Yep I was there! Liquid E-Stats all the way to present day Canons and Xeroxes. I was a tech for 20 years then started my own biz as tech and sales 15 years ago. Still at it! 

I remember the "CROP" codes you mentioned. You pressed the CLEAR, RESET, zero, and PAUSE buttons to get to the meter and other functions on the Sharps. 

The company that first hired me in 82 used to have a tech accompany the salesman at every demo. Those salesmen really knew how to bob and weave their way for a sale! I was at the ready to unjam and adjust and step back and watch the sales guys say incredible things like how the dispersant helped freshen the smell of the office or how the fuser exhaust of the copier "is a constant 72 degrees and will actually act as an air conditioner on hot days".  

Keep up the good work Art!

love it. Fond memories

Harry B. Hecht
Smarter ~ Simpler ~ Faster
t: 609.636.9893 |e:

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