I repeat, ‘The Omal Spirit Duplicator’

In its early days, being all things to all types of shopper was part and parcel of Argos’ raison d’etre. Today, it is possible to buy SOHO [Small Office/Home Office] equipment from our superstore chains. In 1973, it must have been a novelty to have done the same at a High Street store chain. Among of its more portable office equipment was the last word document management. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you…

The Omal Spirit Duplicator

If, like the creator of East of the M60, ever attended a primary school in the 1980s, you may be familiar with a certain floral smell on your worksheets. The sweet floral smell was the spirit used on a duplicator, such as this one. Typically, ink would be dark blue/purple instead of black (which came about when the first photostat copiers reached our offices).

Omal produced a number of items for the office including coin counters. The floral smell from Omal’s spirit duplicator, and several other equivalents, was the 50/50 mix of isopropanol and methanol. The most common colour was aniline purple, with wax colours available in red, blue, green and black.

They were good for small copying jobs, but the printed sheets would fade with ultra violet light. The popularity of photostatic copiers would not only put paid to the fading issues, but also duplicate larger quantities. Whether the duplicator jammed less than today’s photocopiers I don’t know.

Omal’s spirit duplicator could accept paper up to 8.25″ x 13″. Slightly narrow for Foolscap though wide enough for A4. It went for the equivalent of a middle class weekly wage.

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Number One (1973);
  • Page and item numbers: page 63, item 19;
  • 1973 Prices: £44.55 (£59.40, RRP);
  • 2014 Prices: £513.47 (£684.63, RRP).

S.V., 02 December 2014.

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