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Memento : Issue 36
MEMENTO ISSUE 36 23 Tip Archival conservators are often asked how to get a legible copy from a faded original. One option is to digitally scan the document in colour and at high- resolution (for example 400 to 600 dpi). Photo-editing software can then be used to adjust the image. Areas can be enlarged, and brightness, contrast and colour hues can be adjusted. This can often lead to greatly enhanced legibility. The end of the typing pool By the late 20th century, the profession of typist had almost disappeared. This was entirely due to the introduction of new office technology -- the word processor and the laser printer. Over the 1970s the electric typewriter was slowly transformed into a machine known as a word processor. The word processor had a small inbuilt memory which enabled the typist to review typed text before committing it to hard copy. Word processors rapidly increased in sophistication and transformed into the first generation of personal computer, as exemplified by the Apple IIe released in 1983. These innovations made it possible for any person with a little training to quickly and easily produce a document of high quality, without a handwritten draft. As a result, women were freed from the drudgery of the typing pool and could consider moving into other occupations -- or even management. At the same time, society was changing, and it was becoming increasingly acceptable for women to make this change. As the personal computer quickly proliferated, it became common for documents to be created and stored as electronic files. Copies, when required, were produced by sending the electronic file to an office printer -- initially using impact printing (the old dot matrix printer) and then laser or ink jet printing. Of course, now it is common for the creator of the document to produce the final version, using a personal computer, word processing software and an office printer. And there the story ends -- for now. Looking ahead, many see the onset of the digital age as the beginning of the slow demise of the hard-copy document, although others dispute this vision of the paperless office. The legacy of the revolution in office copying, with all its invention and variation, with its overlapping and eclipsing, is the millions upon millions of copies that remain. These languish in historical collections of many types: archives, libraries, museums, personal holdings and even art galleries. Some copies are as pristine as the day they were created; others are showing signs of degradation -- brittleness, yellowing, fading. It is the conservator's challenge to preserve them for future generations. Ian Batterham is Assistant Director, Operations Policy and Projects at the National Archives. His book, The Office Copying Revolution, provides invaluable advice on identifying the products of copying processes and preserving them into the future. [opposite page middle] A Remington 17 typewriter, 1939. [opposite page left] Various typewritten and handwritten carbon copies. [above] A brochure advertising the Xerox 914 copy machine, 1963. The comment in pencil was probably written by a public servant at the time. [below] A typing pool, 1950. NAA: A425, 1963/9640 NAA: A11016, 325