Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nintendo Copilas - part 3 (コピラス, 1971)

In two previous posts on this blog, the 1971 Nintendo Copilas (コピラス) photocopier was introduced and its use demonstrated.

This machine was sold at a then revolutionary price of only ¥9,800, barely providing a profit margin on the hardware. Like many printer companies these days - that practically give away printers in order to make handsome profits on the ink cartridges - Nintendo also intended to make most of the money on providing a continuous supply of paper and developing agent to the Copilas users.

The initial standard Copilas machine was produced in quite large numbers, so finding one these days is not very difficult (various follow-up models were created that are much rarer). However, finding original supplies needed to run it is much more difficult now. These were either used back then or discarded. So, I was happy when I was able to add some of these to my collection a little while ago.

Nintendo Copilas photo sensitive paper

The photo sensitive paper (感光紙) was sold in two standard sizes: B4 and B5.

B5 is a size that sits between the more familiar sizes A4 and A5. A sheet of B4 paper is twice the size of a B5 sheet.

The paper was sold in packs of 100 for the B4 size and 50 sheets for the B5 size. The retail price for the B4 pack was ¥300.

The branding is not fully consistent for the two packs: on the B5 size the Japanese katakana name is used on the blue label: "コピラス". While on the B4 size the name is given in English: "Copilas".

The copy process consisted of two stages: exposing the original on the photo sensitive paper using ultra violet light, and next developing this to make the copied areas appear.

The developing agent (現像剤) was sold in powder form in small sachets. These had to be dissolved in hot water. One sachet was good for 300 ml of developing liquid. According to the label of the B4 paper, one sachet of development agent was needed for per 100 sheets.

[In the previous posts on the Copilas I referred to this developing liquid as "ink", but that was not correct. It does not color the copy like ink does, but rather reacts with chemicals in the paper.]

Sachet of Copilas developing agent

Both paper a development agent contain a note that these are additional supplies "for service" (サービス用).

Previous posts about the Copilas can be found here and here.

Also, check out this post about a localized version of the Copilas, aimed for the Australian market, that includes English language packages of the developing agent and sensitive paper.


  1. Those Systems were quite popular with german Schools.
    I remember the smell and blueish print

  2. Replies
    1. Good question! I guess this one slipped through the cracks. Have put it on the to-do list again. Stay tuned.

  3. where's the developing agent stored in the box?

    1. As far as I know, it was a loose packet, just thrown in, no particular spot in the box.