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This Month in Business History

Patent for the XEROX Machine Issued

Historic American Engineering Record, creator. Replica of Chester Carlson's original Xerox copier - Battelle Memorial Institute, Xerography. 1927. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

It is hard to conceive of a time when copiers were not part of the landscape, but before 1960 that was very much the case. So the fact that the Xerox 914 was unveiled on September 16, 1959 marks a milestone, if a somewhat unheralded one and its driving force, Chester Carlson a somewhat unknown inventor (however he was on a 21¢ stamp as part of the Great Americans series).

Carlson first built and patented “Electrophotography” (US patent 2,297,691 issued October 6, 1942 External) which Battelle and Haloid helped to further develop. Electrophotography being a bit of a mouthful, was changed to xerography(which eventually become the abbreviated Xerox). While earlier versions of what we know as photocopiers were created, the commercial version of the 914 wasn’t sold to the public until 1960. 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.

Photocopiers have come long way. Most businesses, law firms, and libraries have one or more! There are even stores dedicated to making of copies and copiers in our homes. I wonder what Chester Carlson would think about that?

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