Sunday, 14 October 2012

Lowering the Toner

On one of the rare, recent occasions I was printing stuff from my computer, a message flashed up: LOW TONER: PURCHASE NEW CARTRIDGE. However, I know the trick of removing said cartridge and giving it a wee shoogle. Hey presto, printer-magic. It’s not exactly high-tech, though. Computers and all their associated paraphernalia have never failed to confound me.

When I think back on the days when printing ten pages took as many minutes on a printer that weighed half a tonne and sounded like a machine-gun, I continue to be amazed at what printers can produce at the click of a moose.

Next to this strange contraption in the Museum, the first successful rotary printing press, there is a video detailing the first 500 years of printing. For the character in this sestude, the past 50 years have been hard to accept.

The first 5OØ Years of Printing

‘This is where the dye was cast,’ Maureen sulks, recalling her long days in the pool. Not exactly stereotyping – this was surround-sound. Banging memos into waxy stencils; clanking out copies on the office Gestetner. First, the golf-ball; the daisy-wheel, the ink-jet, now laser printers churn out photographs – in colour even.

‘Is this “progress”?’ sighs Maureen, feeling obsolete. ‘Or history in the making?’

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