The Brief History of Photocopiers

In July 26, 2016

Companies everywhere love having photocopiers around to get their important papers into the hands of everyone who needs to see them. They can re-produce a sheet dozens of times at lightning speed, saving businesses substantial amounts of precious time and money.Old Cameras


The technology was created in 1937 by Chester Carlson, a lawyer who had to mass-produce papers regularly as a part of his job, but was quite miserable doing so because of arthritis.


Carlson wrote a caption on a piece of glass used to hold things under a microscope, and surrounded it with sulfur and bright light. He then looked underneath the glass and saw the caption in the document’s surface.


Carlson spent the next few years trying to convince companies to adopt this strategy for duplicating paper. In 1944, the non-profit Battelle science/tech organization collaborated with him to develop the technology further.


In 1947, the Haloid paper company contacted Battelle to express interest in commercializing it. They quickly decided the technology needed a simpler name, so they re-named it “xerography”, from the Greek for “dry writing.” Haloid’s ownership became official within the next year.


In the early 1950s, while Haloid—or Xerox, as they started calling themselves—was working toward the popularization of the xerographic copier in the workforce, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) conceived an alternative method where visual information was applied directly to paper in powder form by a small cylinder.


Around that time, at public places like libraries, Xerox was selling duplicates for 20% of what the normal price had been previously. Making a single reproduction took them only about 15% of the national minimum hourly wage.


Within 30 more years, they were developing specially formulated papers just for copying, and the technology became the standard for the whole paper-manufacturing industry.


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