Before computerization massively invaded the realm of design (circa early 1980s), all ideas for making a product, constructing a structure, an electrical schematic, etc had to be presented via a drawing, painstakingly hand-drawn on paper, mylar or other media.
Each drawing was a personal masterpiece of draftsmanship, where the lines were drawn between concept and tangible creation.
And there was the indispensable supporting equipment to facilitate this task and impart the professional touch to the drawings – the Drawing Board.
The drawing boards evolved quickly into sophisticated equipment known as drafting machines, among which the brand Mutoh was my favourite.
My career foundation was set on these, but with the advent of software like AutoCAD, Pro-E, etc, I found that I had to go “back to the drawing board” to re-chart my way forward. But, no regrets.
When I took my first rodent steps into the Big Rat Race, one of the first machines I encountered in my office was a huge beast which had the abnoxious penchant for emitting a pungent smell when it was called to work.
In those days, after the hand-drafted drawings were completed on mylar films, or tracing paper, the originals were passed through that stinky machine to make more copies. The maximum size that it could accommodate was A0. All the lines on the copies were blue, and the background also had a light bluish tinge.
Of course these days, giant-size photocopiers have rendered the ammonia printers obsolete. The copies are also no longer blue.
But the term “blueprint” is very much in use, especially figuratively in describing plans for making things in the future.
32 years ago, in the autumn of 1985 that I was privileged to be assigned by my company in Singapore to go to the HQ of Xerox Corporation at Rochester, NY USA, to help in the design of the control panel for a new photocopier.
At that time, Xerox had a huge majority market share for photocopiers, with many patents on this technology. While working there for 2 weeks with the designers and engineers, I learnt that Xerox had licensed its patents to several other companies in Asia, but the folks always said, “Only Xerox is original, all others are copies”.
OK, that made sense, I thought, since Xerox was meant to produce more copies!
Sadly, today the copies have eclipsed the original, and seldom do we now hear people say, “xerox a copy for me”.