Posted by: Michael | July 18, 2009

“Photostat Machine”


Has anyone ever seen one of these before?

I don’t think so, unless you’re interested in old office equipment.

This is a Photostat Machine – the predecessor to the modern photocopier, which is found in offices all over the world.

The large part on the right at the top is a camera – a very old camera (this photostat machine dates from 1918 and cameras were much different back then). The camera was used to take a picture of the document, which was developed the same way a normal photograph was at the time. This took about two minutes. The image that was produced was a negative image, meaning that light was dark and dark was light. The negative image was then photostatted with the same procedure, and this produced a positive image.

Since the invention of the modern photocopier in the late 1940’s, the photostat machine has vanished from offices, superceded by the superior photocopier, which can produce a page in seconds, not the 5 or so minutes it took to make a photostatted image.

However, for some reason as yet unknown to me, Malaysians mistakenly refer to a modern photocopier as a “Photostat Machine”. This is wrong. The proper name for the machine is a photocopy machine or photocopier. I don’t even know if there ever were any photostat machines in Malaysia – type in “old photostat machine Malaysia” and all you get are pages about photocopiers.

The Malaysian use of the term “photostat machine” is a misnomer – a word or term that is widely used in a wrong way.

Let’s call the machine by its proper name, shall we?



  1. Very true, sad to say.

  2. I always call them a photostat, but i live in Australia…..picked it up from my grandfolks who are English

  3. I agree with your post. I grew up in Malaysia and the word ‘photostat’ is synonymous with ‘photocopy’.

  4. thanks for correcting me

  5. I think that’s because Malays has adopted the term photostat machine into the Malay language as “mesin fotostat”. Even though they are now photocopy machines everywhere, the Malay language has not changed it to “mesin fotokopi”, thus the widespread use of the former.

    Anyways, I do find this blog very useful. Thanks 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: