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computer output microfilm

Creating microfilm or microfiche from the computer. For approximately three decades before the turn of the century, COM machines were used to take print-image output from the computer either online or via tape or disk and create a film image of each page. The leading vendor of COM machines was Anacomp, Inc., San Diego, CA (, which provides service and refurbished units. See micrographics.


The production, handling and use of microfilm and microfiche. Images are created by cameras or by COM units that accept computer output directly. The documents are magnified for human viewing by readers, some of which can automatically locate a page using indexing techniques.

The Analog Advantage
Microfiche and microfilm have always been an economical alternative for high-volume data and picture storage. Although optical discs have superseded fiche and film for most archival storage, film is still the only medium that can survive continual upgrading of electronic technologies. Storage devices generally remain compatible with only one or two generations of media. At some point, new drives cannot read older cartridges. However, film is analog and can always be read by magnifying it.

In some cases, digital data are converted to microfilm so they can be preserved and accessed decades into the future without regard to the changing digital formats that are bound to occur over time. See computer output microfilm and COLD.

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