Today’s post is from business reference librarian Ellen Terrell.
I will admit that sometimes I can’t 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) 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.
If you want to know more on Carlson and the Xerox 914 David Ownes’ Copies in Seconds : how a lone inventor and an unknown company created the biggest communication breakthrough since Gutenberg : Chester Carlson and the birth of the Xerox machine or Susan Zannos’ Chester Carlson and the development of xerography can continue on with this story. As a note, the New York Public Library has Chester Carlson’s papers.
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?