This Day in History (16-Sep-1959) – Xerox machine came into usage

Xerography, the technology which started the office copying revolution, was the inspiration of a single man Chester Carlson working in his spare time. He was working in patent department of the electronics firm of PR. Mallory & Co.  As he worked at his job, Carlson noted that there never seemed to be enough carbon copies of patent specifications, and there seemed to be no quick or practical way of getting more. The choices were limited to sending for expensive photo copies, or having the documents retyped and then reread for errors.

A thought occurred to him: Offices might benefit from a device that would accept a document and make copies of it in seconds. For many months Carlson spent his evenings at the New York Public Library reading all he could about imaging processes. He unearthed the fundamental principles of what he called electrophotography –later to be named xerography –and patented in 1937. From 1939 to 1944, he was turned down by more than twenty companies. Even the National Inventors Council dismissed his work. In 1947, he entered into an agreement with a small photo-paper company called Haloid later to be known as Xerox), giving Haloid the right to develop a xerographic machine.

It was not until 1959, twenty-one years after Carlson invented xerography, that the first convenient office copier using xerography was unveiled. The 914 copier could make copies quickly at the touch of a button on plain paper. It was a phenomenal success. Today, xerography is a foundation stone of a gigantic worldwide copying industry, including Xerox and other corporations which make and market copiers and duplicators producing billions and billions of copies a year.  The commercial version of the XEROX-914 wasn’t sold to the public until 1960. The first machine, delivered to a Pennsylvania metal-fastener maker, weighed nearly 650 pounds. It needed a carpenter to uncrate it, an employee with “key operator” training, and its own 20-amp circuit.  It was an instant success.  The machine was so successful, that Haloid changed their name to Xerox in 1961 just 2 years after the introduction of the 914.



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