Microfiche scanning

Scott Stevens chenmel at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 22 20:39:01 CDT 2005

On Fri, 22 Apr 2005 01:02:14 -0500
Patrick Finnegan <pat at computer-refuge.org> wrote:

> Tom Jennings declared on Thursday 21 April 2005 11:41 pm:
> > Sheesh, why is everyone treating fiche as a horrible thing? Like
> > it's some terrible, embarrassing obsolete medium that needs to be
> > converted out of as quickly as possible?
> <snip>
> Yeah, but there's at least two problems with it.
> One, it's really hard to make fiche available to other people without 
> scanning or giving out the original, and loaning out fiche is 
> potentially risky and a pain in the ass to track.  Paper docs have 
> similar problems, but it's easier to duplicate paper than microfiche, 
> unless you can find a cheap microfiche -> paper duplicator.

Actually, when I worked at a COM shop, I tried duplicating some
Tektronix Scope manuals that I had on fiche.  Generally fiche are 'shot'
to silver film, which has less stability, but then 'published' to diazo
media which is very stable and long-lived.

What I did was take the diazo 'duplicates' that I bought from Tektronix,
and laid them emulsion-to-emulsion on the diazo fiche 'duplicator' that
every COM shop used to have, and which are probably still in production.
 It produced nice and quite readable duplicates.  Not as good as the
original, but very legible.  If we want to 'make the information widely
available' one approach would be to find a micrografix shop somewhere
still in operation and have duplicate sets made.  Back in the days of
mainstream COM duplicate fiche cost under a few cents apiece to produce.
 The cost for hand-placed dupes would probably be higher, but the
material cost for high quality diazo media on polyester is fairly

Another alternative would be to make silver-film dupes, which would
simply involve contact printing from fiche to 105mm silver film.  That
wouldn't require much 'equipment' at all that is any more specialized
than a darkroom and a contact print frame.

Granted, these approaches still leaves people with fiche to strain their
eyes over, but it's a VERY viable solution and single or limited-source
technical archives could VERY easily be widely duplicated by this means.

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