On This Day in History: Thomas Edison Patents Mimeograph

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On this day in 1876, Edison patented his mimeograph.

On August 8th, 1876 American inventor Thomas Edison secured a patent for his mimeograph machine.  What’s a mimeograph, you might ask?  Now that you’ve asked, it’s also known as a stencil duplicator.  This machine worked by forcing ink through a stencil to print onto paper.  These machines were commonly used to print in small quantities.  For example, they were ideal for producing office and classroom materials.  Additionally, mimeograph machines were commonly used for low-budget, amateur publishing.

While mimeographs were typically used to print text, they could be used to create illustrations as well.  Because changing the color of the ink was laborious and difficult, many images created with the mimeograph were black and white.  However, some experimented with painting several colors on the pad at the same time.

Edison’s 1876 patent covered a flatbed duplicating press and an electric pen for cutting stencils.  However, stencils could be made without his special pen.  For instance, people could cut stencils with a typewriter or even by hand.  Mimeographs remained popular up until the late 1960s when they started to get replaced by photocopying.  However, many developing countries continue to use mimeograph machines because they are simple, cheap, and can be operated without the use of electricity.

According to, “Thomas Edison is credited with inventions such as the first practical incandescent light bulb and the phonograph. He held over 1,000 patents for his inventions.”

We at The Maria Sanchez Show hope you will join us as we celebrate the mimeograph on the anniversary of Edison’s patent. Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown. Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PDT/7:00 p.m. EDT.

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