Saturday, September 22, 2012
The Transition of the Copier Industry "According to Art"
Once upon a time we sold just a copier, that machine only made copies and nothing else.
There was no stapling, no two sided copying, no document feeders, one paper tray and a single sheet by pass tray was the norm. You also had to make sure you didn't place a cup of coffee on top of the copier since most of these devices incorporated a moving top (platen).
As the industry evolved we saw the emergence of companies that developed sorters (remember Gradco), key counters (remember Hecon), coin op units (can't remember one of these), copier cabinets, and even a company that sold custom covers for the devices. Yey, back in the day every new copier came with a cover and yes when asked "do ya think I should cover the copier at night"?, we stated yes, but please make sure you turned it off!
I can distinctly remember one company back in the eighties that manufactured a foil overlay for plain paper copiers. It was a novel idea that allowed users to make a copy of a document and then you could either slide the copy underneath the foil sheet (which was sealed on one side) and then run both the foil and the copy through the by-pass of the copier in one pass. Presto chango... all of the black image on the page was changed to the color of the foil. The foil would only stick to the black toner once the media passed through the fusing section. These foils came in many different colors and the most dramatic was the GOLD foil, we used to tell potential customers that you could turn your copies into GOLD!(pretty lame) You could even get fancy and with the use of removable tape and scissors cut strips of foil to get different colors on the copy. This was probably the inexpensive and easy way to get a color copy, the foil media was primarily used for certificates and proposals. It was awesome, walking in with a proposal that had the look of gold print. Check it out, you can still get this stuff, I just may buy a pack just to mess with some of the younger reps in the office.
How about the key counters, can you remember how popular they were? It seemed that every school had one. The concept was that you had to have a little box that had a mechanical counter (called the key counter) in into the connected the copier. If the key counter was not in the copier, the copier would not operate. This is was used as a way to control copy usage.
At a time when the analog copier industry was maturing. These products and solutions allowed copier dealers to sell more machines and capture additional clicks (back then toner was not included in any of the maintenance agreements). The copier manufacturers saw the success of these companies and thus started adding their own sorters, their own counters and expanded the offering for accessories for copiers.
Dealers and Manufacturers have always been on the front lines to introduce new technology that will help customers increase efficiencies, and reduce costs. In my 33 years in this business it's more about how we can improve our customers work flow and reduce your costs, whether it's imaging with copiers, printers, duplicators, managed print, or document management.
I'll have part two of this ready in a few days........