Thanks to Darla Moore for telling me that the second season premiere of AMC's Mad Men included the introduction of the first photocopier to the show's fictional ad agency. Even if, like me, you have never seen the show you have probably heard about the care the producers take to represent the period, the early 1960's, accurately in terms of clothes, design, furniture, etc. So this was a good opportunity for me to see how they treated the disruptive technology of the period -- the photocopier.
My dissertation concerns the development of the Copyright Act of 1976. The Act was the result of 21 years of work by Congress, the Copyright Office, and various interest groups including librarians. During the period 1955-1976, from the perspective of librarians and publishers the photocopier was the disruptive technology. Just as the Web and digital media are for us today. Networked computers were developing and the implications for copyright were beginning to be explored, but they were not well understood. Photocopiers were improving rapidly, moving from cumbersome, expensive, mediated devices in libraries and offices to small (er), easier to use, self-serve devices located in libraries, schools, offices throughout America. This episode is just one example of what that might have been like for people at the time.