The History of NCR Paper

The History of NCR Paper

It is intriguing to remind ourselves of the history behind NCR paper.

The initial concept of transferring ink onto two separate sheets of paper, thus making two copies was made by two men (Englishman, Ralph Wedgewood and separately Italian, Pellegrino Turri). They were both trying to help blind people write letters, without making a mess when using pen and ink.

Back in 1806 an English man Ralph Wedgewood designed a stylograph machine and to go with it, the very first invented carbon paper. This was a thin sheet of paper which was coated with wax and ink. This was placed between two sheets. Then horizontal metal wires were placed on the top sheet to be used as a guide for blind users. Ralph Wedgewood further developed his idea by making it possible to transfer information from one sheet to another. This idea was then used in businesses and private documents. A new system was the further developed in which the  writing on the first sheet of paper was written using a metal stylus. The subsequent pressure of this passed through the carbon paper and created an imprint of the writing onto the reverse side of the immediate sheet below. A new business was launched to sell this brand new invention to a range of businesses in England. Lots of people appreciated Ralph Wedgewood’s invention and the idea. Businessmen however still wanted their documents to be written using traditional pen and ink due to concerns about forgery. At this time carbon copies of any document had no legal standing in a court of law.

In 1808 an Italian man called Pellegrino Turri invented a type writing machine which also used black carbon papers. This was to help his wife to write letters after she became blind. This invention was to go on and help in the development of type writers later in the century. Both of these men were instrumental in creating 'carbon paper' and the idea of transferring words from one sheet of paper to subsequent sheets. They also provided a new method of writing from a traditional pen, something which had been in use since the early 7th century.

Later in 1823 the American Cyrus Dakin started producing a similar carbon paper to that of Ralph Wedgewood. He then started to sell it to the Associated Press. Businessman Lebbeus Rogers noticed the use of Dakin’s carbon paper and decided to set up his own company (L. H. Rogers and Company) in order to mass produce carbon paper. This was to be used in a new invention linked to this process, namely the type writer! Carbon paper was starting to take off in the business world. The transfer of information to make two, three or more copies of any important document was starting to be widely used by companies.

It wasn't until back in 1953 that NCR carbonless paper (No Carbon Required) was then invented by 2 chemists named Lowell Schleicher and Barry Green. They both who worked at the National Cash Register. They had invented a brand new process which had eliminated the need for carbon paper (which was inserted between sheets). They had now created a system where ink was released from tiny bubbles inside its texture to be released when pressure was applied, most commonly by a pen. This system together with rapid advances in photo copying and information technology throughout the 20th Century, led to a decline in the old carbon paper system. Schleicher and Green’s invention of NCR paper back in 1953 revolutionised copying throughout the world and is in widespread use to this day.

So how does NCR paper work? On the front of each sheet of NCR paper, (except for the top NCR sheet) is a special layer of re-active clay. On the back of each sheet of paper (except the bottom NCR sheet) are very small particles of ink. When pressure is made to the top sheet, usually with a pen, the ink and clay are squeezed together at the point where this force is exerted. This creates an outline on the top sheet of the NCR paper below. Today, multi part NCR pads, NCR books and NCR sets can be found in offices and businesses throughout the world. They are used in numerous situations to enable vendors and customers to keep instant copies of important documents.
 

 

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