Xerox Copiers

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Xerox Copiers

Xerox copiers offered the world the ability to make clean, easy, quick copies on paper. Using photoelectric technology, the Xerox copier could copy a page with the press of a button. The copier quickly replaced the messy mimeograph machine and the time-consuming offset printing processes.

Chester F. Carlson (1906–1968) invented the photocopy machine in his spare time in the late 1930s. His first machines were not immediately appealing to the business community. By 1944, he had failed to sell his patented process and joined with the Battelle Memorial Institute to further perfect the process. Within three years, Battelle had joined with the Haloid Xerox company to sell the machines, but the first ones were difficult to operate. More research resulted in the Xerox copier, Model 914, marketed in 1961 to great success. Profits of the company reached $500 million within three years. The Xerox copier literally changed the way people worked with paper. Xerox Model 914 was honored by inclusion in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in 1985.

Newer models continue to populate offices around the world. Like Kleenex brand tissues and Band-Aid brand bandages (see these two entries under 1920s—Commerce in volume 2), in many people's minds, the Xerox brand has become the generic brand for its product: when one wants to photocopy a paper, one xeroxes it.

—Sara Pendergast

For More Information

Flatow, Ira. They All Laughed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Silverman, Steve. "Xerography." (accessed March 13, 2002).

"There Isn't Any Profit Squeeze at Xerox." Fortune (Vol. 66, July 1962): pp. 151–55.

"Xerox." Jones Telecommunications and Multimedia Encyclopedia. (accessed March 13, 2002).