‘Mispuffs?’ Check out this Review of Xerox’s First Successful Copier, the 914

914Over at his blog, gatesnotes.com, Microsoft’s Bill Gates recently discussed one of the best business books he says he’s ever read, John Brooks’ Business Adventures, which was published in the 1960s, and reviews Xerox’s first commercially successful copier, the 914, which was introduced in 1957. We’re told many operators were initially frightened of the copier. Here’s a snippet:

“Technologically, the 914 is so complex (more complex, some Xerox salesmen insist, than an automobile) that it has an annoying tendency to go wrong, and consequently Xerox maintains a field staff of thousands of repairmen who are presumably ready to answer a call on short notice. The most common malfunction is a jamming of the supply of copy paper, which is rather picturesquely called a ‘mispuff,’ because each sheet of paper is raised into position to be inscribed by an interior puff of air, and the malfunction occurs when the puff goes wrong. A bad mispuff can occasionally put a piece of the paper in contact with hot parts, igniting it and causing an alarming cloud of white smoke to issue from the machine; in such a case, the operator is urged to do nothing, or, at most, to use a small fire extinguisher that is attached to it, since the fire burns itself out comparatively harmlessly if left alone, whereas a bucket of water thrown over a 914 may convey potentially lethal voltages to its metal surface.”

Download the free chapter at Gates’ blog here.


1 Response

  1. David J. McCartney says:

    I worked one summer at an in-plant printing operation for a major defense contractor back in 1967 when I was18..Mostly Multilith offset presses, but we had one Xerox not too different in design than this model.

    Paper fires were such a common occurrence that we kept a CO2 extinguisher right next to the panel door. They weren’t ‘mispuffs’…they were fires!

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