With typewriters fast vanishing from the workplace, the use of carbon paper has dwindled drastically

With time things change. The old is often replaced by things brand new. Carbon paper, once an utter requisite in every workplace, is one of those things to fall victim to this act of time. With the expansion of better technology, typewriters had to give way to computers, which gradually led to decline in the use of carbon paper. The use of these papers, introduced way back in 1806 by Ralph Wendgood, had particularly gone up with the rise in the use of typewriters to facilitate more typed copies at one go.

Reflects a carbon paper distributor in Delhi's Chawri Bazaar, “I have seen a time when carbon paper was much in demand but those days are gone. These papers worked fairly simply, they became popular only because they were very user-friendly.” A carbon paper comes with two sheets. The back of the first sheet is coated with micro-encapsulated dye. The lowermost sheet is coated on the top surface with clay that quickly reacts with the dye to form a permanent mark which means that when someone writes on the sheet, the pressure from the point of the writing instrument causes the micro-capsules to break and spill their dye. Because of its easy-to-use quality, carbon copying on the typewriter became the standard practice in offices.

Sanjay Garg, yet another distributor of carbon paper, reels back, “There was a time when we used to earn about Rs.1 lakh per month by selling carbon paper. It has now come down to just Rs.30,000.” A handful of distributors like Garg are still in the business as carbon paper continues to be used in some government departments besides in rural India because of its cost-effectiveness. “Many companies like Kores and Kangaro are still manufacturing carbon paper,” adds Garg.

However, the death warrant for carbon paper is surely out, in the form of the icon “cc” in an e-mail facility.

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In the dustbin of timeJuly 30, 2010