In 1986, mimeograph machines were (for the most part) replaced by digital copiers in elementary schools. Those of us teachers who experienced using mimeograph machines will forever remember the distinct smell of the still_damp, purple_ink worksheets that we handed out to our students _ by the ream full. (If you're like me, you can remember that smell right now!)
As far as using worksheets for busy work, the verdict is in. It is destructive to classroom learning to assign worksheets to simply keep students occupied. Busy work creates monotony, causes boredom and increases the likelihood of behavior problems. To know if you are on the right track with worksheets in your classroom, answer (honestly) these simple questions: Do my students groan when I hand out a worksheet? (The answer should be no.) Are my lesson plans based on worksheets? (The answer should be no.) Do I feel anxiety if I don't have worksheets copied? (The answer should be no.) Are students excited about learning in my classroom? (The answer should be yes!).