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A FIGHTER AGAINST MOUNTAINS OF PAPER

SHARE A FIGHTER AGAINST MOUNTAINS OF PAPER

There will be no need for paper once computers are widely used.

Those words were bandied about several years ago, extolling one of the virtues of computers that were supposed to make a "paperless society."That forecast hasn't come true and, in fact, Americans are producing mountains of paper at an unprecedented rate. With the emphasis on saving the environment, anyone who can reduce the paper mountain will get some votes from environmentalists.

One such company is Anacomp, which has 56 service centers across the country, including the one at 5140 Amelia Earhart Drive in the Salt Lake International Center where Robert M. Smith, district director, is trying his best to reduce the paper mountain.

That might be difficult to do. Smith said Salt Lake businesses are producing more than 20 million copies of memos, letters, reports, computer printouts and other documents daily. That's enough, placed end to end, to reach from Salt Lake City to Savannah, Ga., and back.

Anacomp's main business is to convert computer-generated data to microfiche, 4-by-6-inch sheets of photographic film, which individually can handle up to 700 pages of material. The conversion process, referred to as computer output to microfilm, is done around the clock at Smith's operation in an effort to provide speedy service.

The conversion process reduces the amount of space needed to store the information by 90 percent. "Even though we operate around the clock, we process only a fraction of the information generated by Salt Lake businesses," Smith said.

The process of converting millions of documents to microfiche is only part of the challenge, he said, with designing the microfiche to maximize the user's ability to get the data the real challenge equally important.

He said the problems of information management are real. "As our economy becomes more information-based, we have to finds ways to make the knowledge we generate more accessible and more usable," he said.

In addition to the conversion process, Anacomp has a film processing laboratory for processing a customer's microfilm, a currier service on the road 18 hours per day for pickup and delivery and employees who sell various machines for reading and microfiche and making prints.

Smith has 14 employees, including three service people and two in the MX Division, where supplies are sold. Anacomp opened at the same location in 1968 and hasn't moved.

A native of Manzanola, Colo., Smith worked many years for the Kodak Co. in Boise, Salt Lake City and the Silicon Valley in California before returning to Salt Lake City with Kodak in 1986. He took early retirement from Kodak and became Anacomp's district manager last November.

Anacomp has 9,000 employees nationwide and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind.