3M Graphic Systems Hardware Days According to Pete

The Machines That Made it Possible

Last Revised: April 20, 2020

Some Graphic Systems Anecdotes                     Some Charts Showing Graphic Systems Evolution

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Here, I am starting a small (and unofficial) chronical of some of the Business Machines sold and serviced by 3M and its dealers. Many of the divisions involved were later known as the "Graphic Systems Group". 3M directly designed and manufactured many of these machines, but the operations also grew through acquisitions and by private labelling of hardwre produced by others.

It's my intent to overview some of those machines for posterity, from the view of people who dealt with them. I'm one of those people, so you will be hearing from me, for now.

Although my focus is supposed to be on the hardware itself, I have recently gotten some interesting charts showing how the various divisions had formed, combined, made acquisitions, etc., through out the years. See the charts:
Some Charts Showing Graphic Systems Evolution

3M assigned a sequential internal numerical model number for each machine. Then, the marketing department of each manufacturing division assigned a sales name (often a number-name) to it for field use.
I will begin by listing some of those models in the links below, then I will attempt to write a short essay about some of them.

From my view, it was the introduction and popularity of the 3M Thermofax copying machine that got this whole (and Major) "TFSI" sales/service/administration organization going.
The early Thermo-Fax copy machines were sold and serviced by "TFSI", (Thermo-Fax Sales Incorporated) a wholly owned subsidiary of 3M, and also through a number of dealers. TFSI changed its name to (3M)BPSI (Business Products Sales Incorporated) in about 1963, just as I started my career with 3M. I think that "BPSI" (pronounced "bipsy") was still a 3M subsidiary. Years later, BPSI became a regular 3M division and changed its name to (3M)BPSD (Business Products Sales Division).

Anecdotes From Others

Machine Listings

Here is a partial list of 3M divisions that had major hardware products for sale at one time or another:
These are Divisions and products lines whose hardware was often sold and/or serviced by HESD and its predecessor, TFSI (Thermofax Sales Inc)/3MBPSI (3M Business Products Sale Inc)/3MBPSD (3M Business Products Sales Division):
Note that, at various times, some divisions sold their hardware directly or through various dealer relationships.

Microfilm Products Division: consisting of Engineering Systems, File Management Systems and Computer Output Microfilm
Duplicating (Copying Products)
Visual Products Division (Overhead Projection Equipment)
Business Communications Division (Mostly Facsimilie)
Safety and Security (Library Systems)
Medical Imaging Systems Division
Printing Products Division
3M Sound Products Division/Duplicating Products (Background Music)
Computer Vision
Medical Products Division
Packaging Systems Division
Dental Products Division
Hearing Health Division?

I'll start with a few of the major hardware divisions, Duplicating, Microfilm, Business Communications, Printing and Visuals.
From time to time, 3M divisions outside of Graphic Systems did use BPSI/BPSD for field service. The Background Music link is an example of that.
Click the links below to see the (partial for now)machine model list for the subject division:

Duplicating Products Hardware
Business Machines sold by the Microfilm Products division of 3M
Fax Machines sold and produced by Business Communicatons Products Division
Printing Products Hardware
Overhead Projection and Support Equipment of the Visual Products Division
Background Music Systems
See if you can match the pictures below to the actual model numbers!!!
A nice selection of Graphics Systems Advertising Copy

If you'd like to contribute an article about any one of these machines, please use the contact link at the top of this page to let me know.