Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ditto On That

Laser printers, photo copiers, who needs 'em? Employed by professional offices all over the world, the Ditto, or spirit duplicator, was where it was at in terms of information reproduction for many, many years, having been introduced by Ditto Inc. in 1910 and used widely well into the 1990s. The print itself was actually pretty terrible and, in fact, tended to fade with prolonged exposure to light, turning the endless rows of pale fluorescent overheads in my grade school into its natural predator. Many of our readers out there probably remember getting handed quizzes and exams that were almost completely unreadable, at which point the teacher would say, "OK, now question number 2 is supposed to read '8 + 3' and question 4 is '10 X 2' and question 7 is..." until you were basically re-writing the entire thing yourself. Of course Dittos had one notable side-benefit that was thought by many kids to be the positive aspect of test-taking: supposedly sniffing the chemical residue left on freshly-minted Ditto sheets would get you rip-roaring high. Check out the video clip from the Cameron Crowe-penned 1981 comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and watch to the very end for an example of the Ditto-sniffing phenomenon in action.

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