AskDefine | Define photostat

Dictionary Definition



1 a photocopy made on a Photostat machine
2 a duplicating machine that makes quick positive or negative copies directly on the surface of prepared paper [syn: Photostat machine] v : make a copy by means of a Photostat device

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A photocopy, especially one made by a Photostat machine
  2. positive (black on white) or negative (white on black) reproduction of printed matter or artwork made on a photostat machine, which uses photographic paper instead of a transparent negative, and uses a prism to render the paper negative readable instead of reversed.


to photostat
  1. To make such a photocopy

Extensive Definition

The Photostat machine, or Photostat, was an early projection photocopier created in the 1900s by both the Rectigraph Company and the Photostat Corporation (an Eastman Kodak affiliate).


The growth of business during the industrial revolution created the need for a more efficient means of transcription than hand copying. Carbon paper was first used in the early 19th century. By the late 1840s copying presses were used to copy outgoing correspondence. One by one, other methods appeared: among them were manifold writers (used by Mark Twain), the Cyclostyle, copying baths, copying books and roller copiers. Among the most significant of them was the Blue process, which initiated blueprints in the early 1870s. Stencil duplicators surfaced in 1874, mimeograph stencils in 1884. All were manual; most involved messy fluids and were accident-prone. But finally, advances in electrophotography resulted in the ultimate goal of projection photocopying.
A Rectigraph or Photostat(TM) machine was as large and expensive as an industrial drill press. It consisted of a large camera that created images directly onto rolls of sensitized paper that were about 350 feet (or 107 meters) long. A prism was placed in front of the lens to reverse the image. After a 10-second exposure, the paper was directed to developing and fixing baths, then either air- or machine-dried. The result was a negative print, which could be rephotographed to make any number of positive prints.
The resulting prints are commonly referred to as "photostats." The verbs "Photostat," "photostatted," and "photostatting" refer to making copies on such a machine—much as the trademark name "Xerox" was later used to refer to any copy made by means of electrostatic photocopying. People who operated these machines, as comedian Pat Paulsen did for a time, were known as photostat operators.
It was the expense and inconvenience of photostats that drove Chester Carlson to study electrophotography. In the mid-40s Carlson got Haloid interested in his invention—which came to be called xerography. Photostatting soon sank into history.


The Rectigraph Company, founded 1909 in Rochester, NY, was absorbed by 1906's Haloid in 1935; Haloid became Xerox in 1961.
The Photostat Corporation was founded in Rhode Island in 1911, and was eventually absorbed by Itek in 1963.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Ditto copy, X-ray, Xerox, Xerox copy, blowup, blueprint, calotype, capture on film, clone, contact print, contact printing, copy, cyanotype, ditto, double, dupe, duplicate, enlargement, facsimile, film, glossy, hectograph, hectograph copy, hologram, impress, impression, lantern slide, manifold, matte, microcopy, microfilm, microprint, mimeo, mimeograph, mimeograph copy, mug, multigraph, negative, offprint, pan, photocopy, photograph, photogravure, photomap, photostatic copy, positive, print, projection printing, proof, quadruplicate, radiograph, reduplicate, replicate, reprint, reproduce, roentgenograph, semi-matte, shoot, slide, snap, snapshoot, snapshot, stat, take a photograph, talbotype, trace, transcribe, transparency, triplicate
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