Inspired by @ajroach42's research, I ordered a 60s hand powered printing/copying machine - the Print-O-Matic A2G!

While I got it with a print project in mind, I think it would be really cool to try to make an open source version of it!

There is little info out there about this kind of machine (mimeograph), but given their simplicity I hope I will be able to back engineer it and create instructions on building and using your own.

Can't wait for it to get here!

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@stevelord You can find a bit more on @ajroach42's thread here:

Sadly, there's little info on the internet about it. From my research, mimeographs were used in offices and schools in the US up the time when Xerox came in with their electric copier.

It works similar to screen printing, but with a drum instead of tray - which lets you make bunch of copies fast. Instead of a screen, it used a stencil. Those are not made anymore, but I hope I can find some alternatives.

@exquisitecorp *self-contained compact color printing system*

Hell yeah I do! Time to jump into yet another rabbit hole! :glenda:

@exquisitecorp Gocco looks like a cool, compact way to make small screen prints at home. With everything contained inside the box you don't have to worry about the mess!

...but, the single-use flash lightbulbs are so wasteful 😔

I need to dig deeper to see if someone found a good alternative to use with it - maybe UV lightbulbs and longer exposure would work?

I wish there was a way of making the screens for gocco without any electricity - this is what attracted me to the print-o-matic.

@FredBednarski @ajroach42 I remember a few of these kinds of machines still floating around my elementary school, a few teachers still used them, if copiers were down I guess. You always knew if the worksheet was mimeograph or a copy because of the purple ink (was it ink, no idea how they worked) the mimeograph used. Those units looked like a very heavy built copier with a crank handle, or that's how my childhood memories of them sit.

@KayEllen @FredBednarski those were ditto machines, probably. Spirit duplicators. Same idea, but with alcohol.

@ajroach42 @FredBednarski Ah yes!! I was just thinking about how I heard adults talking about making 'dittos' of things at school! Thanks!

@ajroach42 @KayEllen Bit more about mimeograph and spirit duplicator connection.

Based on looking up some old patents (especially:, it seems that development of the purple alcohol based ink started as means of making using mimeograph easier.

Also, I stumbled upon a period video which shown how to use spirit duplication process on a mimeograph (by blocking the ink holes and using spirit master)...

@ajroach42 @KayEllen it seems that spirit duplication was created as a method to use your on mimeograph. I can reason (although don't have proof yet) that the two methods were used at the same time, on the same machines.

This can explain why the two are often used interchangeably - because you were doing spirit copies on a mimeograph!

I guess we classify them as two different things now, because dedicated spirit duplicators became a think later on.

@FredBednarski @ajroach42 really neat to see how these (pre optical + toner based copier) duplication technologies developed developed!

@KayEllen The one you're describing is a newer tech (Spirit Duplicator) and works a bit different to this machine. Instead of a master page printed with the purple alcohol ink you're describing, this uses stencils and normal pigment (which is better for longevity of the print).

I know that in US both this and spirit duplicators were called mimeograph, probably because it was the established name/brand.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind having a spirit duplicator down the line as well 😉

@FredBednarski thanks cool info! I was not aware. This explains why there were another type of machine around, one that was almost never used that looked similar to the spirit duplicator. Oh and I do remember how that purple ink just faded away over time! Tests from as recent as 2 years prior just disappeared, only my pencil marks remained :) Was "ditto" a brand too? I remember people talking about making 'dittos' of things back then too..

@KayEllen Yep, the spirit duplication process is far from archival :D

I think ditto was a brand, haven't really gone down that rabbit hole enough to confirm for sure tho :)

However, I found why the two names were often interchanged - spirit duplication started as something you can do on a mimeograph! It was the new hotness in copying, using the tech you had. With time, dedicated (simpler, and probably cheaper) machines were made for spirit duplication only.

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