Walt's Early Xerox?

Walt Disney seems pleased with this snazzy new gadget and the image he's holding in his hand. Was it produced on this curious new machine? 

Now, don't tell me this is an early Xerox Photocopier. I was working at the Walt Disney Studios in the sixties when the studio purchased its first "photocopier." I have no idea who made this device or how the clunky thing worked. It used some sort of heat process to reproduce our drawings on thin brownish paper. It was a pretty crummy solution, but, hey! - We could now make instant copies of our drawings and that was a very big deal.

If you're young, you probably don't even remember a time without photocopy machines. These devices have become so much a part of our lives it's as though they were always here. But trust me, they weren't.

Let's return to the sixties, and remember when a marvelous new device was installed in E-Wing on the first floor of Walt Disney's Animation Building. The device was made by the Xerox corporation and it was a technology that would soon change our lives as Disney artists. Want a copy of that Milt Kahl sketch? Make a Xerox. Do you need that Marc Davis pose? Make a Xerox. Soon, Disney's entire animation department had found a new religion and it was called, "Making copies."

By the seventies, other artists at the studio found a new use for the Xerox photocopier. Turns out this was the perfect device to "loot" the Disney animation archive without actually taking the original drawings. The ethical issues of this practice won't be debated here. Let's just say I saw a good deal of Xeroxing going on - and it sure wasn't for the Walt Disney Company. It was to further the personal agenda of a handful of disgruntled Disney artists. If you're at all familiar with the animation business, you'll know exactly who I'm talking about.

Would Walt Disney have cared? I don't know. Walt was pretty protective of his properties and probably wouldn't have liked the idea of his material being reproduced. However, the genie was already out of the bottle. Even Walt Disney could not have imagined the upcoming digital revolution where any and everything could be easily reproduced. Perhaps that's what Walt Disney is thinking as he studies this strange new machine.

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