Birth of Xerography

Xerography (electrophotography), the technology that is now widely used in office printing for digital multifunction machines and laser printers, became commercially practical for the first time by Xerox Corporation of the U.S. In this section, the history of xerography is introduced from its invention to commercialization.

Invention of Xerography

Xerography was invented by Chester F. Carlson who was a patent attorney in the U.S. It was necessary for him to make copies of drawings and specifications to apply for patents. However, making copies involved enormous effort since transcription by hand or typewriter was the only method in those days. Accordingly, Carlson started research on the copying of prints and photos in spare hours from his work. In addition, he personally undertook experiments by bringing chemicals, flasks and slides into the kitchen of his apartment from around 1934.

He invented xerography through such research activities and filed his first patent regarding xerography in person as a patent attorney. He continued basic research and finally succeeded in a copying experiment using the xerographic method on October 22, 1938.

Carlson using his original lab equipmentCarlson using his original lab equipment

First xerographic copy. This legend marks the time and place name on Long Island where an experiment was conducted.First xerographic copy This legend marks the time and place name on Long Island where an experiment was conducted.

Carlson's original patent application materialCarlson's original patent application material

Commercialization of Xerography

Carlson established the basic principles of xerography, although a great deal of research and development was required to commercialize it practically. The Haloid Company (later Xerox Corporation), which carried out the research and development, officially announced xerography technology on October 22, 1948, ten years to the day after Carlson succeeded in creating the first xerographic copy. This technology was named "xerography" for the first time at this time. This name came from the Greek radicals xeros (dry) and graphos (writing), because there are no liquid chemicals involved in the process, unlike the conventional wet copying system..

The Haloid Company subsequently intended to complete a compact office photocopier and at last succeeded in developing the compact office photocopier called the "Xerox 914" in 1959. Sales of the Xerox 914 grew dramatically and exceeded 100 million dollars in three years after its release. In addition, The company changed its name to the Xerox Corporation in 1961.

The Xerox 914 was an epoch-making copier. It was highly versatile since any number of copies could be made from any material, unlike the conventional printing method. Additionally, it was also revolutionary in that high quality copies could be made on plain paper. The advent of the Xerox 914 led to a revolutionary change in the distribution of information.

In Japan, Xerox photocopiers started to become widespread in 1962 through Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. Changes introduced by these machines are called "Office Revolutions" which have become vital to subsequent office work.

The Xerox printer demonstrated by Carlson (left) and J.C. Wilson (right: Xerox Corporation)The Xerox printer demonstrated by Carlson (left) and J.C. Wilson (right: Xerox Corporation)

Photocopier "Xerox 914"Photocopier "Xerox 914"