The History of Xerox Machines

The History of Xerox Machines

It’s difficult to imagine the world without Xerox machines. Imagine typing out copies of pages or writing these by hand! Undoubtedly, Xerox machines (and subsequently, copy machines) have revolutionized the office and even the educational world by making duplicating documents easy, fast and economical. But how exactly did this photocopying machine start and how was it popularized all over the world? The history of Xerox machines is, despite the fact that it most of these machines print in black and white, a rather colorful one.


The history of the first Xerox copy machine starts with the story of an amazing chemist and physicist named Chester Carlson. Xerox, as a company, was founded in Rochester in 1906 (it was called Haloid Photographic Company then). But it was only until the 1950s that the first Xerox copy machines were produced. Carlson, though, already conceptualized the technology behind Xerox machines during the 1930s. Carlson was then a manager of the patent department of PR, Mallory and Co., an electronics firm. He was also struggling to make ends meet, juggling marriage and even schoolwork as a law student at night.

While working for the firm, Carlson noticed that there weren’t sufficient carbon copies of patent details and that it was a difficult task to obtain more. The only options available were to have them photocopied, which cost a lot of money, or have them retyped then checked for errors. He then thought that many offices would benefit from having copy machines that could provide copies of documents quickly and efficiently.

Carlson spent nights researching on easy ways of photocopying and on imaging processes that could help him create copy machines. Instead of reading on traditional photography, though, Carlson looked at the field of photoconductivity to think of ideas for photocopying. He started experimenting on electrical conductivity in his home and discovered the principles of electrophotography, which later became known as xerography.

He patented his ideas during the 1930s but was turned down by many companies from 1939 to 1944. It was only in 1959 that the first office copy machine was launched to the public. Called the Xerox 914, the first Xerox machine made the photocopying process quick and simple; it could make copies of a number of documents with a click of a button. Soon, many Xerox machines became in demand all over the world. Many other upgrades to the original machine were made through the years. A lot of different features were added to the original copy machines—the first Xerox machine with a document feeder, for instance, was introduced in later years.

Xerox, as a company, earned a lot through the years, making investors richer by the millions. Even Apple’s Steve Jobs was inspired by the ideas put forth by Xerox during the 1970s. Apple even considered buying the company in the ‘80s but this deal fizzled down. Now, Xerox is still enjoying success as a global brand (thanks to a man named Chester Carlson). The company continues to invest on research and new technology to make their Xerox machines and copy machines even better.


This Article is written by John C Arkin, contributor of PrintCountry Articles.

This Article is written by John C Arkin.


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