Facsimile Reproduction

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Facsimile reproduction means making an exact copy of anything imprinted on paper (words, pictures, graphics, maps, charts, or other types of pictorial media) using electronic devices such as copiers, facsimile (fax) machines, printers, scanners, digital cameras, and any other similar reprographic equipment. Whether reproducing information either electronically or on paper, producing quality copies that are acceptable to the task being performed is of the utmost importance.


  • One of the earliest methods used to make a printed copy was the invention of carbon paper by a Briton named J. W. Swan around 1862; it was not used in offices, however, until sometime later. This type of carbon paper provided a somewhat less than perfect copy of typed material and provided a choice between very messy carbon paper that made several copies or single-use carbon paper that was much easier to use.
  • A duplicating machine called the mimeograph began to be used in the late 1890s. Copies were produced by typing on a lightly oiled surface called a master. This process involved retyping an original document, a very time-consuming process. As time passed, the mimeograph machine was improved enough to permit masters to be reused if stored properly.
  • In 1906 the Haloid Company (which later became the Xerox Corporation) was founded to sell photographic paper for its early version of today's copier. It was expensive, impractical, and difficult to use.
  • In 1913 Edouard Belin invented the Belinograph, a portable facsimile machine capable of using ordinary phone lines.
  • In the 1920s, a copying machine called a duplicating machine, considered one of the first modern examples of efficient industrial design was introduced by the Gestetner Company.
  • The death knell for carbon paper was sounded in 1937 when American law student Chester Carlson invented the electrostatic dry-copying process of duplication that became known as xerography. This process used the effect of light on photoconductivity and led to the phenomenal success of the Xerox Corporation's commercial copy machine introduced in 1959. The major problem with this copier was that it was heat-sensitive and resulted in paper scorching.
  • After World War II (19391945), 3M and Eastman Kodak introduced the Thermo-Fax and Verifax copiers. While the machines were relatively inexpensive and easy to use, they required special paper that was extremely expensive, and the copies were of poor quality.
  • Dot-matrix printers were introduced in 1971, providing a reasonably efficient way to reproduce computer-generated information on paper.
  • In 1974 the first international fax standard was set by the United Nations allowing for fax messages to be transmitted at a rate of one page every six minutes. Special paper that was light sensitive was required for these early fax machines.
  • The first laser printer was introduced by IBM in 1975. This process of copying used light lasers and improved both the process and the product.

Reprographic technology of the early twenty-first century involves using fax machines, copiers, printers, scanners, digital cameras, and other digital-related equipment in conjunction with phones and computers to reproduce pictures, sounds, and other images electronically and on paper. As a specific reprographic method is refined, its quality improves and propels the reprographic process forward to a higher level and a future with endless boundaries supported by ongoing research.


Fax machines have emerged as an essential piece of communication equipment to be used both personally and professionally because of their convenience and efficiency in transmitting specific types of information. Fax machines are unique in that they can make or transmit exact copies of words, pictures, graphics, or other types of pictorial media electronically via phone lines. Most fax machines can produce plain paper copies, but it is not advisable to consider using a fax machine as a replacement for a regular copier machine because of cost.


User-friendly copiers are standard pieces of equipment for reproduction and provide a wide array of capabilities. Copiers are sold by a wide variety of vendors who offer an array of products and services to meet individual needs. When selecting a copier for possible lease or purchase, individual features and individual needs should be major considerations. The cost of a copier is determined by the model selected and the options desired. Prices range from a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000.

The number of copies that can be produced in a minute is an important feature. Ease of use in loading paper is also important. Paper is usually loaded in the front of the machine using one or more paper tray configurations. Most copiers are capable of producing two-sided copies as well as copying books or bound documents without distortion of the copy. Most copiers also provide an option that allows copied material to be enlarged or reduced in scale within certain percent increments.

All copiers have a push-button digital control panel that provides the user with the opportunity to select the

functions desired in an easy and efficient manner, and offer service information as well. Copiers use toner cartridges that need to be replaced when the toner powder is used up.


A printer is an essential piece of reproduction equipment to accommodate information printed via a computer. Printers vary in price depending on the features desired. The three most commonly used types of printers are inkjet printers, bubble-jet printers, and laser printers.

Ink-Jet Printers

Ink-jet printers are among the most popular types of printers used because of their affordability and performance. Ink-jet printers operate by spraying small amounts of ink on paper to create images. Ink-jet printers use small replaceable cartridges that come in both color and black and white.

Bubble-Jet Printers

Bubble-jet printers are somewhat similar to ink-jet printers in that with a bubble-jet printer, heat that is created with tiny resistors vaporizes the ink into a bubble. The formed bubble then ejects from the print head onto the paper.

Laser Printers

Laser printers operate using the concept of static electricity, which allows electricity to stick to a device inside the printer called the drum, which in turn creates electrostatic images. As paper moves through the printer, the electrostatic images are coated with a black powder called toner, similar to that of a copier which produces an image. Toner comes in cartridges and is available in both color and black and white.


Scanners are electronic devices that can automatically read but not distinguish in any way material being scanned. This process is known as optical character recognition. From there a scanner uses software to convert the image and/or words into a pattern of dots known as a bitmap. The quality of the scanned material depends on the number of dots per inch and the depth of each dot (known as a pixel). Scanners come in several sizes depending on the amount of material to be scanned. One of the most common is the flatbed scanner.

Scanners have a wide variety of applications including copying photographs and medical records. The files can then be edited and formatted and then sent electronically. Major considerations when selecting a scanner should include ease of use as well as image and quality resolution.


Of all the reprographic devices invented in the late twentieth century, the digital camera, because of its construction, has become one of the fastest-growing methods of reproducing images and data. Among the digital camera's many advantages is the capability of seeing instantly what the picture looks like, thus allowing the user to delete or keep the picture for printing. It is also possible to print one picture or several pictures, depending on preference. Because there is no film, digital cameras can be reused easily. With proper computer equipment, digital camera chips can be inserted into the computer and pictures can be printed immediately.

Digital cameras operate with specific types of rechargeable batteries. Keeping the batteries charged is important to remember when using a digital camera. Digital cameras have no film but operate using a sensor chip and flash memory. Chip size affects the resolution of the picture and the hues and intensities of colors. Digital cameras come in a wide variety of configurations and prices. When shopping for a digital camera, consumers should carefully consider both the resolution quality, which is very important in guaranteeing a high-quality picture, and the amount of memory.


The history of facsimile reproduction is rich with research that intertwines with the many diversified methods of reproduction today. While electronics are used in new and creative ways daily in reproducing material, the need for high-quality production of the printed word continues to be of the utmost importance.

see also Office Technology


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Dorothy A. Maxwell