Time Essay: What Hath XEROX Wrought?

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The copier may have its faults, but the machine is, after all, a relatively recent invention. Once some of the novelty wears off, Xerox users will probably learn to be a little more dis criminating about what they copy. And despite the machine's debilitating effects on letter-writing, the great god Xeros has kept his part of the bargain: the copy ing machine does make it easier for in formation to be spread. Certainly any thing that greases the path of knowledge is a net gain for society. Besides, with more than 2 million machines in use, it is a little late to stop the revolution. Says Chandler B. Grannis, editor-at-large of Publisher's Weekly: "Copying machines exist. They will be used, legally and ethically or not."

Indeed, they will be used more and more. Sales and leases of office copiers have been advancing at a rate of 15% a year, and a number of manufacturers now offer personal copiers with price tags as low as $99. The day may not be far off when nearly everyone who has a typewriter will also own a photocopier.

If so, then the need for discretion, self-control and clear prose will be greater than ever. And if the beast can be tamed, the benefits of freer expression and the wider dissemination of information will be multiplied over and over and over and over and over . . .

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