Xerox introduces the first copier | (2023)

General description

The first fully automatic copier was introduced in 1959 by the Xerox Corporation. Called the 914, it could make 7.5 copies per minute on any type of paper. At the time, few companies realized how important the copier would be, how many millions of dollars Xerox would make from it, and how it would become an essential tool for any modern business.


The history of the copier is largely the history of the Xerox Corporation. The promoter of the company was Chester Carlson (1906-1968), an American physicist and patent attorney. In the 1930s, while working as a patent officer, he discovered that there were never enough copies of a patent. I wanted a better method than copying by hand or sending it to be photocopied.

Carlson began to study the problem and his research led him to the field of photoconductors. He discovered that the electrical conductivity of certain metals and alloys changes after exposure to light. Carlson's flash of inspiration was very simple: if you projected an image onto a photoconductive surface, different degrees of electrical current would flow through the light and dark areas. If there was a way to draw a certain kind of ink to the different parts of the cables, it would be possible to reproduce the image.

In 1938, Carlson and his assistant, Otto Kornei, made the first photocopy by projecting a slide image onto a sulphur-coated piece of zinc. This charged the surface. Then they covered it with a powder of lycopodium (the spores of a moss). They removed the dust and found that it had stuck to the sulfur, revealing the words "10-22-38 Astoria," a blurry but faithful reproduction of their slide.

Carlson took his invention to Kodak, IBM, General Electric and other companies, who rejected it. In 1944, Carlson met a researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit organization that funded his research. Carlson and Battelle joined the Haloid Company, a manufacturer of photographic paper, in 1946. The two eventually merged and changed the company name to XeroX in 1961 (the X at the end was a Kodak imitation and later changed to an x ​​small). .) The word comes from the term used for photocopying, xerography.xeroin Greek it meant dry, andPictureswrote. Today, the generic term photocopy has replaced xerography. (Once upon a time, the Japanese used the term ricohing after the name of the country's best-selling photocopier.) Xerox produced the first manual copier in 1949. This device, Model A, was difficult and cumbersome to use and was not very successful.

After ten years of redesigning their copier, Xerox produced the first fully automatic copier, the 914. With a huge advertising campaign, the copier went on sale for the first time in late 1959, with deliveries beginning in 1960. Xerox leased its products and replaced and repaired all . their machines. Xerox fulfilled the orders immediately and as quickly as possible. Two years after the introduction of the 914, they had sold $60 million worth of copiers. By the mid-1960s, Xerox had sales of nearly $500 million.


Before 914, there were four ways to copy documents: manually, by photography, by carbon copies, where prints were transferred over several sheets of paper held in a typewriter, or by the duplicator, a machine that made ink copies of documents. document. Any company that wanted to make thousands of copies of a document had to outsource printers. The costs associated with this were large and out of reach for most small businesses and individuals. The Xerox 914 changed all that because companies rented their machines and got paid based on the number of units produced.

After the successful introduction of the 914, Xerox looked for ways to expand its market. The first way was to make a smaller desktop copier: the 914 weighed 650 pounds (295 kg). The 813, the first desktop copier, was developed in the early 1960s and released in late 1963. Like the 914, it sold very well. From the early 1960s to the early 1970s, Xerox was one of the fastest growing stocks in the world.

Modern copiers operate on Carlson's original principles, but the insides are very different. The first step is to charge the photoconductive surface, a hollow cylinder called a drum, by operating a small oneelectric currentThrough. This surface, normally selenium, is kept in the dark to maintain its charge. The document to be copied is then exposed by passing a light over it. The mirrors reflect the light from the document onto the rotating drum. Where light hits the drum, electric charge spreads. No matter where there is text or an image, the charge is preserved. The toner, microscopic particles of oppositely charged black powder, is then passed through a series of belts over the drum: it adheres only to the charged (dark) areas. Now that the toner is attached to the drum, a sheet of paper with a small static charge is passed over the drum. The toner is transferred from the drum to the paperstatic electricity. The paper is pressed to ensure adhesion and heated to dry the toner. The copying process is now complete and the paper is ejected from the copier.

Xerox's successes made it inevitable that other companies would enter this market. Many Japanese companies, including Canon, Ricoh, Minolta and others, soon had competing products on the market. They introduced their first models in the 1970s. But the products were of very low quality: some even caught fire. They had little chance of making a dent in Xerox's market dominance. Over time, quality improved and many of these companies managed to erode Xerox's market share by entering the lower end of the market and moving up the ranks. These copiers were less expensive than Xerox's and were not powerful machines. But because companies made few copies or where speed was not a priority, Japanese competitors were successful.

An example is Ricoh Corporation, which introduced the Savin 750 in the summer of 1970. It cost two and a half times less than the closest comparable model from Xerox and had another surprising advantage: it used liquid toner. Xerox toner was a powder that had to be melted, sprayed onto the paper, and then cooled to harden. All these steps made the copying process take at least a few seconds. The Savin 750 had liquid toner, reducing it to a one-step process. It was simpler than the Xerox method, making it faster and cheaper.

Today, copiers can be found everywhere from offices to schools, libraries and supermarkets. Millions of copies are made all over the world every day at the touch of a button. This ease of use has also come with some problems. Many publishers are concerned about plagiarism and copyright infringement. If it's easy to copy 30 pages of a textbook, many publishers fear losing revenue as individuals and groups take pages and chapters from books to avoid paying for often expensive full textbooks and reference books. The law governing this in most countries is called Fair Use, which allows people to make limited copies for their own personal use. In addition, many universities and schools are allowed to make limited copies of volumes of academic journals and textbooks for student use.

Modern copiers are versatile machines with many functions. Copiers can sort multiple pages in random order, staple paper, fold paper, make binding holes, and copy on both sides of a sheet of paper. Copiers can handle different types of paper; Images can be placed on transparencies and other materials. Almost any paper size can be used, sometimes measuring more than four square meters. Copy speeds have also increased: advanced copiers can now produce up to 150 copies per minute of a single page.

Color copiers, introduced in the 1970s, operate on the same principles as black and white copiers. They work more slowly because they make a copy step by step and analyze how the different primary colors blend together to form the final image. Color images are created by scanning the image multiple times; Each time the document is scanned, it is viewed through different color filters. After dividing the document into its constituent colors, four different colored toners (yellow, cyan, magenta, and black) are used to create a color image layer by layer.

Digital technologies have changed the process of making copies. Digital copiers can store the image of a page in memory and then print as many copies as needed, using the stored copy in place of the original. This allows the user to keep the original while the copying process continues. A digital copier also has other features that give people more control over the quality of the copy. By using the copier controls, stamps, margin notes, and other defects can be removed. Images can also be moved, enlarged or centered in the finished print. Xerox also invented itLaser Printer, which uses a laser to trace an image onto a photoconductive surface rather than reflected light. Their first model, the 9700, was released in 1977.


Other reading


Dessauer, John H.My Years at Xerox: The Billions No One Wanted.Garden City, Nueva York: Doubleday, 1971.

Jacobson, Gary and John Hillkirk.Photocopy: American samurai.NY: Macmillan, 1986.

Kearns, David T. in David A. Nadler.prophets iDark.NY:HarperCollins, 1992.

Other things

Scientific American: Praktische kennis: Copiers.

Stanford UniversityLibraries: Copyright and Fair Use.

Xerox: the document company.

Science and Its Time: Understanding the Social Importance of Scientific Discoveries


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