Xerography is a type of technology that uses dry heat to make copies of documents. It comes from the Greek work “xeros” which means dry, and “graphos” which means writing.
It is the technology used in photocopying machines and was first introduced to the world by the company Xerox in 1959.
The man responsible for this technology was Chester Carlson, a lawyer from New York. He was also a part time researcher and inventor.
Carlson had arthritis, a painful condition of the joints when they swell and become stiff. His job required him to make many copies of different papers and this tired him out.
He did many experiments on photoconductivity where he studied the increased electrical activity when there is light, and made his first photocopy in 1938.
He photocopied “10-22-38 Astoria” but large companies like IBM refused his machine because people used carbon papers to make many copies of a document.
Carlson did not give up and finally in 1947 the Haloid Corporation worked with Carlson and introduced the technology Xerography to the world.
The machines that operated using this technology were called “Xerox machines” and Haloid Corporation changed their name to Xerox Corporation in 1948.
The process of xerography is a type of copying where the original image is copied onto a paper through powders that stick to the paper, which is electrically charged. Therefore, the electrical charge is only in the shape of whatever image or letters need to be copied.
The powders arrange themselves onto the shape of the electrical charge when light falls on to the electrically charged paper.
The Xerox Corporation released the first office copier in 1958 and it was called the Xerox 914. This time the world noticed, and the copier sold like hotcakes.
It was such a great success that the company, which was only earning a yearly income of about $2 million, increased its income to about $22 million in just three years.
People started referring to the action of using a Xerox machine as “Xeroxing”.
Soon however, many other companies started producing similar machines that used xerography to make copies of documents and pictures.
These companies naturally did not like people calling the copies “Xeroxing” or the machine the “Xerox machine”. They fought to change the way people spoke about these machines and their copies.
They suggested the term “copying” instead of “Xeroxing”, and “photocopier machine” instead of “Xerox machine”.
The main reason for this was these companies did not like that the Xerox Corporation was having all the advantage in the business; they wanted some too.
Today, the technology of xerography has improved rapidly. Most people prefer 3D printing which is the latest development of the 21st century.
The work and vision of one man, Chester Carlson, who merely wanted to make his workload easier to bear, ended up revolutionizing the future.