How the Copier World has Evolved

~~   When I first started in the copier industry roughly 33 years ago, I had a lot to learn in my position of sales assistant.  First and foremost, I had to get acquainted with the copier in the sales department.  This was a seemingly easy task seeing that copiers “back in the day” were pretty direct and simple in comparison to today’s multifunctional units.  As I recall, this copier in particular had a moving platen with no automatic document feeder, no duplexing or sorting and copied at a whopping 12 copies a minute, give or take.  Quality at times was suspect.  A simple act of adding toner could be problematic.  You had to add the toner on the side of the unit and dump it from a container into this bottomless pit of sorts.  And to make things even worse, you had to stir it with a little plastic stick all the while remembering not to cough … or even breathe for that matter. 

     After this model became “extinct”, it was commonplace for most copiers to have duplex and sorting features, not to mention an automatic document feeder.  At that time duplexing (or copying two-sided) was achieved by the copier scanning the original up to 50 times since the duplex tray held up to 50 sheets.  It would stack those copies in the duplex tray.  Then it would pull out one sheet at a time and copy on the backside.  It was wonderful to be able to save on paper and print on both sides but this added feature came at a price.  That price would be an occasional jam or two.  Since the copier held these sheets in the duplex tray and pulled them out one at a time it added a ton of friction, hence the word we all learned to hate … misfeed!!  It was simply the nature of the beast.   And God forbid if you ever had a jam in the middle of a job.  You could clear the jam and count the sheets in the duplex tray and reinsert your original where you thought it should be.  Then you could pray for the best and prepare for the worst.  As the years passed and the units became more robust, (i.e. improved copy quality, color copying, etc.), no one was prepared for what was to appear on the horizon and change the complexion of the copier industry.  The “digital” world was upon us.

     You could now “Scan Once, Print Many” since copiers now had memory.  What a luxury!  The misfeeds of the past were a distant memory.  There were no more worries about stacking copies in the duplex tray as it was now a simple “one in and one out”.  And quality?  Unbelievable was the common sentiment.   You now had a fully functional copier with second to none quality and, did I mention, no more sorter bins?  You could now get completed sets one at a time on a finisher that would either staple or stagger your sets.  It was quite a luxury to have.  And the copiers could also come equipped with brilliant color copying as opposed to the original color copiers where quality was lacking.

     After receiving our first generation of digital copiers, we knew what was coming next.  You would soon be able to print, scan, copy, and fax from a single unit.  The truly multifunctional digital copier was on the horizon!  And it got here faster than anyone could have ever imagined. 

     As it should come as no surprise, today we can even print from our smart phones and tablets.  Unbelievable, especially if you look back at the 30 some odd years I’ve been in the business.  But if I’ve learned one thing in this ever evolving industry, it’s to never say “no”.  We often hear, “Can it do this?  Can it do that?”  Chances are it can.