Tag Archives: com fiche

What is Computer Output Microfilm (COM fiche)?

What is Computer Output Microfilm (COM)?

Computer Output Microfilm (COM) is a system that converts stored data directly to microfilm or microfiche. I know around ten people who used to sell Bell & Howell Computer Output Microfilm systems as far back as the 1960s to the 1980s. It almost seems to be a prerequisite for salespeople in the micrographics industry from that era.

com fiche

COM recorder

Computer Output Microfilm systems are still used today, mostly by organizations who need to store payroll, accounting, insurance, inventory, or employee data. Yet because most of these organizations have outputted the Computer Output Microfilm to microfiche, they have to manually search for a record and use a reader printer to save out a particular file.

computer output microfilm

Old diagram of COM creation (microfilm)


A more feasible option is to convert Computer Output Microfilm to digital image via Generation Imaging’s microfiche scanning services. Generation Imaging specializes in microfiche to PDF, TIFF, or JPEG conversions.

Using high quality/high production microfiche scanners, we convert the COM microfiche to digital. Generation Imaging provides this COM fiche scanning service to end users as well as other service bureau’s. Clients can choose from Adobe PDF format, Group 4 TIFF (tagged image file format), or greyscale JPEGs. PDFs and TIFFs can be wrapped in a multi-page file. Generation Imaging offers an optional OCR (optical character recognition) image processing and other indexing services (by folder or filename).

The end result of this entire process is a digital image which you could easily search the file containing records by name, account number, date, and/or social security number. Obviously this saves time and efficiency.

computer output media

COM Fiche

Definitions of COM

1. Computer Output Microfilm: microfilm containing data, which is created by a recorder from computer generated electrical signals.
2. Computer Output Microfilmer: a recorder which converts data from a computer into language and records it on microfilm.
3. Computer Output Microfilming: a method of converting data from a computer into language onto microfilm.

You can substitute “microfilm” with “microfiche“.

Do you have microfiche to convert to pdf or digital image?

If so, please contact us today for a free microfiche scanning quote. Let us digitize microfiche for you. Generation Imaging has wholesale scanning prices, and is run by a specialized experienced team. With over 30 years of experience, we have seen all types  of microfiche. We have top notch customer service and a quick turnaround. CONTACT US

COM Microfiche Scanning

What is COM Microfiche Scanning?

One of the most popular types of microfiche is COM (computer output microfiche). In fact many veterans in the microfiche conversion industry have the picture of a COM microfiche in their mind when they use the word “microfiche”.

Back in the day, the micrographic industry was all about creating microfiche and microfilm. Salespeople would sell COM machines, which would out the computer data to the microfiche cards. Accessories included COM duplicator machines. COM microfiche scanning is the process of converting those cards to digital images.

Scanning COM fiche is necessary if you are working with account records contained on the fiche and you grow weary of using a microfiche reader printer or EyeCOM fiche viewer. With the images digitized and indexed, you could search for specific accounts easier.

How Many Images are on a COM microfiche?

Generally there are 208 images (16 columns x 13 rows) or 270 images (18 columns x 15 rows) on COM fiche, with some variance in-between. For example some columns may not be filled with images and some people do not count the index frames. There is a special type of COM fiche called ultrafiche, which could have hundreds more of images!

microfiche scanning

The Microfiche Scanner

Most microfiche scanners must be set up to create a grid to line-up over the microfiche card. Other scanners can create image ribbons which can be broken down into individual images. Still other scanners could take a snapshot of the entire microfiche card, however you need special software to view that type.

For most microfiche scanners, the digital format received would be single page images or multi-page images. These types are usually PDF, PDF/A, JPEG. JPEG 2000, bi-tonal Group IV TIF, uncompressed greyscale TIF, and LZW TIFF.

There are many microfiche scanners sold online. These can be bought second hand from a microfiche equipment dealer, directly from a manufacturer, or from a reseller who makes a commission from the manufacturer. In addition to buying the microfiche scanner, you may have to get a license or maintenance plan. You must know how to operate the microfiche machine, and be able to train others.

Or, you could outsource your microfiche to a microfiche scanning company who will give you a price per image (or price per card). If you are on the fence about if you should purchase a microfiche scanner or have a company scan the microfiche for you, feel free to contact us for a free estimate and guidance to help you come to a decision.