In 1781, the Scottish engineer James Watt, best known for his development of the steam engine, patented the first copying press. Using a process of wet transfer, the machine pressed a document written in gelatinous ink against specially manufactured translucent paper. The resultant copy could be read from the reverse side. Presenting William Godwin with one of Watt’s machines in the 1790s, Josiah Wedgewood wrote of saving ‘the irksome & unprofitable labour of copying & insomuch advance the great undertaking we are jointly concerned in’....
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