Copier. Photocopier. Copy Machine. Photocopy Machine. Whatever you refer to them as, the technique known as Xerography has single-handedly changed the way office spaces run and function today. The evolution of the infamous copy machine has spanned over six decades and a wide array of corporations taking their shot at ongoing innovation.

Since its creation in 1938 and eventual publication in 1959, the copy machine has gone through a lot of upgrades and technological advances. Keep reading to learn more about the history and evolution of the Copy Machine.

What is Xerography? defines Xerography as an electrostatic printing process for copying text or graphics whereby areas on a sheet of paper corresponding to the image areas of the original are sensitized with a charge of static electricity so that, when powdered with a toner carrying an opposite charge, only the charged areas retain the toner, which is then fused to the paper to make it permanent. Franking Sense summarized the process, saying “The technology was based around using a zinc plate, microscope slides, sulphur powder and used a bright light to create a heat reaction.”

Inside a Copy Machine, a cylinder-like object called the drum is electrically charged. The electrically charged drum then attracts the toner. Since opposites attract, the positively-charged toner adheres to the negatively charged areas of the drum, forming whatever image is being copied.

The positively-charged toner won’t adhere to the parts of the drum that contain no charge, only the areas of the drum that are negatively charged – the image you’re wanting copied. Since the toner is heat sensitive, the second the toner is transferred to the sheet of paper, it permanently seals itself, making an exact copy. How Stuff Works summarizes Xerography by saying, “At its heart, a copier works because of one basic physical principle: opposite charges attract.” 

Meaning Behind the Name Xerography

Xerography wasn’t always Xerography. At one point in time, it was considered Electrophotography. In 1947, The Haloid Company became interested in marketing the copy machine invented by Chester Carlson. “It was decided around this time that the phrase ‘electrophotography’ was too complex, so, after consultation with a linguist, they chose the word ‘Xerography,’ which means ‘dry writing’ in Greek,” says Franking Sense.

Later, after acquiring rights and selling the uber-successful 914 Copy Machine in 1959, the Haloid Company changed its name to Xerox Corporation in 1961. Since then, the term ‘Xerox’ has been known in virtually every office building in America. In some instances, the term ‘Xerox’ can even be used as a verb, meaning to make copies of something. 

Brief History of the Copy Machine

Copier, Xerography, Astoria

In October of 1938, Chester Carlson wrote on a piece of paper, “10-22-38 ASTORIA;” This is the date and location of the first xerographic image. However, it wouldn’t be until 20 years later that the first-ever commercial copier — the 914 copier — would be introduced. 

Before his discovery that changed the way office spaces functioned throughout the world, Carlson attended a nearby junior college, majoring in Chemistry. He later went on to major in and graduate with a degree in Physics from the California Institute of Technology. Once the Great Depression hit, Carlson was laid off from his job as a research engineer and began a job at an electronic firm while putting himself through New York Law School at night. However, the Depression hadn’t been easy for him or his wife. He is credited by the Xerox Corporation’s “The Story of Xerography” as saying:

“It was kind of a struggle, so I thought the possibility of making an invention might kill two birds with one stone: It would be a chance to do the world some good and also a chance to do myself some good.”

In the span of five years, Carlson was turned down by more than 20 companies. It wasn’t until 1944 that the Battelle Memorial Institute became interested in his creation. Three years later, the Battelle Memorial Institute entered into an agreement with The Haloid Company, which would later become known as Xerox Corporation.

Brief History of the Copy Machine

  • 1938 – The first ever Xerographic image was created by Chester Carlson in his apartment in Queens, NY. The copy read “10-22-38 ASTORIA.”
  • 1959 – Xerox 914 Copy Machine was invented. This would become the first ever xerographic machine made for the commercial market. Years later, the 914 was sped up and became the 420 and 720 models. 
The Evolution of the Copier
  • 1963 – Xerox introduces the Xerox 813. This copier was small enough to fit on a desk, making it more accessible for individual use. Similar to the 914, this machine was eventually upgraded to the 330 and 660 models. Later, it became the 740 desktop microfiche printer.
  • 1964 – Xerox launches the LDX (Long Distance Xerography) System. Xerox claims this is “the first practical means of transmitting copies between two points using a microwave channel, coaxial cable, or special telephone lines.” This system incorporated both the printer and the scanner, making it the first of its kind, and signaled the rise of the modern-day Fax Machine. “The LDX System was the beginning of commercial fax as we know it,” says Xerox.  
  • 1973 – Xerox 6500 is introduced as the first electrostatic color copier. 
  • 1974 – Xerox introduces its Xerox 9200 Duplicating System. This version was eventually upgraded to the 9400 and 9500 versions. 
  • 1975 – Antitrust Laws. Xerox had to disclose its patent system, resulting in a surge of other companies producing their versions of the copier, making the market more competitive.
  • 1975 – Today – Since the Antitrust Law in 1975, many corporations such as IBM, Canon, Sharp, Konica Minolta, Toshiba, HP and many others have made their mark on the copy world and have introduced their respective products and machines.

Copiers Today

Today, copiers have become more and more technologically advanced. With new technologies like printing, scanning and faxing all done in one copy machine. The size has also fluctuated in that time. Originally getting smaller for more convenience, the copy machine then gradually began increasing in size once many different processes and techniques were put into one machine. This saved space in offices by having one machine do the job of many as opposed to many smaller machines taking up more office space.

If you’re not sure which copier is right for you or your business, Advanced Office Solutions is here to help you with all of your questions. Stop into one of our three locations or give us a call today to set up a meeting with one of our representatives to find the copier that best fits your needs!