What Is the Difference Between Mimeograph and Ditto: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a mimeograph and a ditto? While they may seem like ancient relics from a bygone era, these two duplicating machines were once the backbone of school and office communication. Despite their similarities, there are some important differences between these two old-school machines.

For starters, the mimeograph was invented in 1876 and used a flat metal plate to print copies of documents. By contrast, the ditto machine was invented in the 1920s and relied on a stencil-like sheet that was wrapped around a drum. Both machines required an initial printed copy of the document to be created, but the mimeograph used ink to transfer the image to the paper, while the ditto machine relied on a purple ink called ditto fluid.

So why do we care about the difference between mimeographs and dittos in the age of digital communication? While these machines may seem archaic, they played a crucial role in shaping the way we share information. From schools and government offices to small businesses and churches, mimeographs and dittos helped us disseminate information quickly and efficiently. Even in the digital age, it’s worth remembering the ingenuity and innovation that went into these machines and the important role they played in our history.

History of Mimeograph and Ditto

The Mimeograph and Ditto machines were commonly used in the pre-digital era to produce multiple copies of written materials, ranging from office memos to school assignments. While these devices are not used today, they have played a significant role in the history of printing and communication.

The Mimeograph was first invented in 1876 by Thomas Edison, who saw the need for a faster and more efficient way of producing multiple copies of documents. The machine used a stencil, a thin waxed sheet, which could be written on with a special ink. The stencil was then placed on a rotating drum, and ink was forced through it onto a piece of paper below. The process allowed for the production of up to 500 copies per hour, making it an important development for schools, churches, and businesses.

The Ditto machine was introduced in 1923 by the Ditto Corporation, which had acquired the rights to Edison’s Mimeograph. Unlike the Mimeograph, which used a wax stencil, the Ditto machine used a master copy made of a special tissue paper. The master copy would be typed or written on with a special ink, the reverse side of which would be transferred to a fresh sheet of paper through the use of pressure and solvents. The Ditto machine was cheaper and easier to use than the Mimeograph and quickly became the go-to device for printing short documents.

Notable Features of Mimeograph and Ditto

  • The Mimeograph was known for its ability to produce high-quality prints, making it a popular choice for reproducing photographs and illustrations.
  • The Ditto machine was faster and easier to operate than the Mimeograph. It was also cheaper, making it the preferred choice for small businesses and schools.
  • Both machines relied on the use of stencils or master copies, which could be stored for future use. This allowed for the production of large quantities of duplicate documents and made the machines useful for archives and libraries.

The Impact of Mimeograph and Ditto

The Mimeograph and Ditto became household names in the early 20th century and played a significant role in revolutionizing communication and printing. The machines allowed for the mass-production of written materials, from office memos to school newspapers, which helped to disseminate information to a wider audience. They also became a tool for political activism, as they were used to print flyers and propaganda during the civil rights and anti-war movements.

The introduction of mimeograph and ditto paved the way for more sophisticated technology, such as photocopiers and printers. Today, we are living in the digital age, where information is disseminated at lightning speeds through the internet and social media. However, it is important to recognize the impact and legacy of the Mimeograph and Ditto machine, which helped to shape the world we live in today.

Mimeograph Ditto Machine
First invented in 1876 by Thomas Edison. Introduced in 1923 by the Ditto Corporation.
Used a wax stencil to produce prints. Used a master copy made of tissue paper.
Could produce up to 500 copies per hour. Was faster and easier to operate than the Mimeograph.
Known for producing high-quality prints. Cheaper and more popular among small businesses.

Overall, the history of the Mimeograph and Ditto machine has had a significant impact on the communication and printing industry, and its legacy is still present in the modern era.

The Technological Advancements of Printing

Over the years, printing technology has advanced significantly. From the earliest forms of printing, such as woodblock printing and relief printing, to the advent of the printing press, printing has come a long way. Today, with the widespread use of digital printing, it is easy to forget the technologies that came before. Two such technologies were the mimeograph and the ditto.

The Difference between Mimeograph and Ditto

  • The Mimeograph: It was a low-cost duplicating machine used mainly for producing copies of documents, mainly in schools and universities, and small businesses. It was invented in 1884 by Albert Blake Dick and replaced the gelatine process, which was messy and took a long time. The mimeograph worked by transferring ink from a stenciled master copy onto paper with the help of a rotating drum. The end result was a copy that had a slightly bluish or purplish tint.
  • The Ditto: As compared to the mimeograph, the ditto was a much simpler and cheaper duplicating machine. It was created in 1923 by the Ditto Corporation and was popularly used in schools, churches, and small businesses. The machine worked by applying ink onto a smooth sheet of paper, which was then pressed onto another sheet of paper, resulting in a copy. The copies made by the ditto had a distinctive purple hue.

The Advancement of Printing Technology

Thanks to advancements in technology, we now have access to high-quality, fast, and efficient printing methods that have completely transformed the printing industry. Some of the latest advancements in printing technology are:

  • Digital Printing – With the advent of digital printing, producing high-quality prints has become easier and more efficient. Digital printing eliminates the need for plates, and the turnaround time for printing is much faster.
  • 3D Printing – 3D printing has completely revolutionized the manufacturing and printing industry. It enables users to print intricate, three-dimensional objects without any complicated or specialized machinery.
  • Inkjet Printing – Inkjet printing technology has transformed the world of printing. It allows for high-quality and precise printing, making it perfect for printing photos, graphics, and text.

The Future of Printing

As printing technology continues to improve, we can only expect more exciting and innovative changes to come. With more companies investing in print technology, it’s clear that printing will continue to play a significant role in the future of technology.

With the advent of new printing technologies, the future of printing looks bright and exciting.

Understanding Mimeograph and Ditto Machines

Before the invention of modern printing technology, mimeograph and ditto machines were once the go-to machines to produce multiple copies of a document, booklet, or a brochure. Both machines were instrumental in the spread of information, enabling the production of a high volume of copies quickly and efficiently. Even though these machines are outdated, it’s essential to understand the differences between them, especially if you come across old printed material.

Differences Between Mimeograph and Ditto Machines

  • Technology: Mimeographs use a stencil to create a master copy that presses inked pigment onto paper. Meanwhile, ditto machines have a two-part carbon-like paper covered with methyl violet dye that transfer ink to paper.
  • Quality: The quality of mimeograph copies is more superior to the ditto machine copies. The mimeograph process allowed better ink absorption, producing a more defined, crisp, and darker print. Ditto machine copies, on the other hand, were prone to smudging and resulting in a lighter, inconsistent copy.
  • Operations: Mimeographs required you to make a master stencil of the original document. The stencil would then be attached to a drum or cylinder on the machine that would press ink onto the paper. With ditto machines, there was no need to create a stencil. One only needed to put the original document face down on the machine, insert the two-part carbon paper, and hand-crank the machine.


Understanding the differences between mimeograph and ditto machines can provide insight into the evolution of printing technology. While these machines may be outdated in modern times, they were once the backbone of disseminating information in classrooms, government, and newsrooms. So, even though we may never use these machines again, we can appreciate knowing how they helped shape the dissemination of information.

Technology Advantages Disadvantages
Digital Printing Fast, high-quality printing. Cost-effective for short print runs. Not as cost-effective for long print runs. Quality can degrade over time.
3D Printing Can produce intricate, three-dimensional objects quickly. Cost-effective for low-volume production runs. Not ideal for high-volume production. Material costs can be high.
Inkjet Printing Produces high-quality and precise prints. Cost-effective for printing photos and graphics. Not as cost-effective for large volumes of text.
Mimeograph Machines Ditto Machines
Stencil-based printing method Carbon-like paper with dye to transfer ink
Superior print quality Lighter and inconsistent print quality
Requires stencil creation No stencil creation required

As seen in this table, mimeograph machines and ditto machines have notable differences. Knowing these differences can provide context when examining old copies and documents from the past.

The Role of Mimeograph and Ditto Machines in Education

Both mimeograph and ditto machines have played an important role in education, especially during the mid-20th century. These machines revolutionized the way teachers distributed materials to their students and made it easier and quicker to produce multiple copies of handouts and worksheets. In this article, we will explore the differences between mimeograph and ditto machines and their roles in education.

The Advantages of Mimeograph Machines

  • Mimeograph machines were widely used in schools during the mid-20th century
  • They were reliable and produced high-quality copies
  • They were relatively inexpensive compared to other printing technologies

The Advantages of Ditto Machines

  • Ditto machines were even more affordable than mimeograph machines
  • They were small and portable, making them easy to move around the classroom
  • Ditto machines were very simple to operate, even for teachers who had little experience with printing technology

The Role of Mimeograph and Ditto Machines in Education

Mimeograph and ditto machines were crucial tools for teachers, particularly for those who needed to distribute handouts and worksheets to a large number of students. Before the arrival of these machines, teachers had to rely on writing everything on the chalkboard or typing and then photocopying every single handout. This was not only time-consuming but also exhausting.

With the mimeograph and ditto machines, teachers were able to produce multiple copies of handouts and worksheets in a matter of minutes. This allowed them to focus on teaching instead of spending hours writing or photocopying materials.

Mimeograph Machines Ditto Machines
Produced high-quality copies Were even more affordable than mimeograph machines
Required ink and stencils Used a special type of paper that was coated with a dye
Were larger and less portable Were small and easily transportable

Although mimeograph and ditto machines are no longer widely used in education, their contributions to the field of teaching cannot be overlooked. These machines made it possible for teachers to distribute materials to a large number of students quickly and easily, and without them, education would not have progressed as quickly as it did in the mid-20th century.

The Pros and Cons of Mimeograph and Ditto Machines

When it comes to duplicating documents, two popular machines have been used in the past: mimeograph and ditto. Both machines have their strengths and weaknesses, and understanding the pros and cons of each can help you decide which one is right for your needs.

  • Pros of Mimeograph Machines:
    • Mimeograph machines produce high-quality prints that are clear and easy to read, making them ideal for professional documents and letterheads.
    • Mimeographs can handle large quantities of paper with ease, making them perfect for school worksheets, bulletins, and newsletters.
    • While mimeographs were traditionally manual, electronic mimeographs have become available, which makes duplicating documents even easier and more time-efficient.
  • Cons of Mimeograph Machines:
    • Setting up and cleaning a mimeograph machine can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.
    • Mimeograph machines are known for their distinct odor caused by the ink and chemicals used in the duplicating process.
    • Due to the physical nature of the process, mimeographs may not be suitable for printing photographs or images that require sharp detail.
  • Pros of Ditto Machines:
    • The duplicating process of ditto machines is quick and easy, making them perfect for small-scale printing needs like handouts or classroom materials.
    • Dittos produce a unique, purple or blue type of print that has a visually appealing aesthetic.
    • Unlike mimeographs, ditto machines have a relatively low cost and maintenance requirements, that makes it accessible for small businesses or individuals.
  • Cons of Ditto Machines:
    • Ditto machines often suffer from the ink on the original copy getting smeared or faint, which results in illegible copies.
    • The lifespan of a ditto machine is short due to the wear and tear caused by the printing process, causing them to become less reliable over time.
    • The visibility of images and photographs in ditto prints is generally poor, making them an unideal option for reproducing images or complex graphics.

Mimeograph versus Ditto Machine

When deciding between a mimeograph and a ditto machine, consider the quality and quantity of documents you need to duplicate. If you need high-quality prints with sharp detail, then mimeograph machines may be the better option for professional documents and advertising. However, if you need simple, low-cost, easy-to-use printing option for small quantities of documents, then ditto machines may be perfect for your needs.

Machine type Pros Cons
Mimeograph • High-quality prints
• Can handle large quantities of paper
• Electronic versions available
• Time-consuming setup and cleaning
• Unpleasant odor
• Unsuitable for printing photographs
Ditto • Quick and easy process
• Visually appealing prints
• Low cost and maintenance
• Ink on original copy gets faint or smeared
• Short lifespan
• Poor image reproduction

Ultimately, the choice between a mimeograph and a ditto machine comes down to the requirements and preferences of the user. With all the available options, you can match the machine to your particular printing needs.

Mimeograph and Ditto: Similarities and Differences

When it comes to duplicating documents, two machines were popular in the past: the mimeograph and ditto. These machines were widely used in schools and offices because they provide an efficient way to mass-produce copies of written materials. While these tools share some similarities, they also have significant differences that make them unique. In this article, we will examine the differences and similarities between the mimeograph and ditto machine.

Differences Between Mimeograph and Ditto

  • Mimeograph uses stencil sheets, while Ditto uses a master copy.
  • A mimeograph machine requires ink to be applied to the stencil sheet, while the Ditto machine uses a special type of ink-containing wax paper.
  • The mimeograph machine is more expensive and requires more maintenance than a Ditto machine.
  • Mimeographs create a cleaner copy, while Ditto machines produce copies with a more distinctive purple color.
  • Mimeograph machines can accommodate larger sheet sizes compared to Ditto machines.
  • Mimeographs can produce higher quality copies than the Ditto machine.

Similarities Between Mimeograph and Ditto

Both machines share some common features, which include:

  • Both machines use a crank to pull paper through the machine.
  • Both machines were used from the early to mid-1900s before being replaced by more advanced copying technologies.
  • Both machines create duplicates of the original document, although the quality of the copy varies between the two.
  • Both machines require some degree of skill and practice to produce high-quality copies.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mimeograph and Ditto

The mimeograph and Ditto machines have their own strengths and weaknesses, which make them useful in different contexts. The mimeograph machine requires more maintenance and provides a cleaner copy, making it more suitable for professional settings, while the Ditto machine is less expensive and more accessible to people who need to make occasional copies.

Advantages of the Mimeograph Machine Advantages of the Ditto Machine
Produces high-quality copies Less expensive
Can accommodate larger sheet sizes Requires less maintenance
Allows multiple copies of the same document to be created simultaneously Produces a distinctive purple color copy

Overall, both the mimeograph and Ditto machines played a significant role in document duplication before they were replaced by more advanced copying technologies. While the mimeograph was more expensive and required more maintenance, it produced higher quality copies. The Ditto machine, on the other hand, was less expensive and required less maintenance, making it more accessible to people who needed to make occasional copies.

The Extinction of Mimeograph and Ditto Machines in Modern Times

As technology continues to advance, the use of traditional printing methods has declined. Mimeograph and ditto machines, once staples in schools and offices, have become almost entirely extinct. While these machines had their glory days, their high cost and limited capabilities compared to newer printing technologies contributed to their decline.

  • Mimeograph machines, invented in the late 1800s, made it possible to print multiple copies of documents using a stencil. The stencil was placed on a cylinder drum, ink was applied to the stencil, and paper was fed through the machine, leaving a copy of the stencil on the paper. This method provided a quick and affordable way to produce copies, but the stencils were fragile and could only produce a limited number of copies before needing to be replaced.
  • Ditto machines, invented in the early 1900s, used a similar process but with a wax sheet instead of a stencil. The wax was transferred onto the paper, producing the image. This method was faster and more efficient than mimeograph machines, but still had limitations in terms of the number of copies that could be produced before the wax sheet needed to be replaced.
  • With the introduction of photocopiers in the 1960s, the limitations of mimeograph and ditto machines became more apparent. Photocopiers were faster, more efficient, and could produce a higher quality image with no restrictions on the number of copies. Additionally, digital printing technologies, including inkjet and laser printers, have further revolutionized the printing industry, making traditional printing methods almost obsolete.

Today, it is rare to find mimeograph and ditto machines in use. While nostalgic for some, the limitations and inefficiencies they posed are no longer acceptable in modern times. They have been replaced with faster, more advanced digital printing technologies that offer a higher level of convenience and flexibility.

The extinction of mimeograph and ditto machines serves as a reminder that technology is constantly evolving and that we must adapt to keep up with the times.

Advantages of Mimeograph and Ditto Machines Disadvantages of Mimeograph and Ditto Machines
Less expensive to operate than traditional printing methods Stencils and wax sheets are fragile and need to be replaced frequently
Can produce multiple copies at once Limited in the number of copies produced before replacement is necessary
Quick and easy to use Low-quality images and text

While mimeograph and ditto machines may have their advantages, their limitations and inefficiencies have made them irrelevant in today’s digital age.

What is the Difference Between Mimeograph and Ditto?

Q: What are mimeographs and dittos?
A: Mimeographs and dittos are printing machines used in the mid-20th century for making copies of documents.

Q: What is the main difference between mimeographs and dittos?
A: The main difference is the technology used to make copies. Mimeographs use a stencil, while dittos use a master sheet coated with ink.

Q: Can you create more copies with a mimeograph or a ditto?
A: Generally, mimeographs could create more copies due to the sturdiness of the stencil. Dittos could produce up to around 50 copies before the ink ran out.

Q: Was one machine faster than the other?
A: It depends on the specific model, but generally, dittos were faster than mimeographs because they could make a copy in under 10 seconds.

Q: Are mimeographs and dittos still used today?
A: No, these machines are no longer in use and have been replaced by digital printing technology.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading about the difference between mimeographs and dittos, two printing technologies that played a significant role in the past but have since been replaced by modern alternatives. It’s fascinating to think about the evolution of technology and how far we’ve come since these machines were in use. Be sure to check back for more interesting articles like this one!