Xerography--Where It All Began
Believe it or not, there was a time when xerography was laughed at and carbon paper was king. One man changed it all 60 years ago this month.
As you route another job through the network to your Xerox DocuTech today, take a moment to reflect on the fact that xerographic technology has come a long way since it was invented 60 years ago this month.
It was October 22, 1938, in Astoria, N.Y., when Chester Carlson, a patent attorney and part-time inventor, made the first successful xerographic copy. In the six decades since that historic day, xerography has grown to become an integral part of our daily lives—an outcome that would have seemed preposterous to Carlson's contemporaries. In fact, due to the extreme apathy of the companies to which Carlson tried to market his idea, the first convenient xerographic office copier was not introduced until 1959—21 years after the process was invented.
Genesis Of An Idea
As a teenager, Carlson worked for a printer. He eventually acquired a press of his own, and used it to publish a short-lived magazine for amateur chemists.
"This experience did impress me with the difficulty of getting words into hard copy, and this, in turn, started me thinking about duplicating processes," Carlson recalled, years later.
After attaining a degree in physics, Carlson eventually got a job with P.R. Mallory & Co., a New York electronics firm. He earned a law degree from New York Law School, and was promoted to manager of Mallory's patent department.
There, in this heavy paperwork environment, Carlson noticed the consistent shortage of carbon copies of patent specifications. He began to conceive of a device that would accept a document and make copies of it in seconds.
After reading as much as he could about imaging processes, he decided to eschew the well-charted course toward conventional photography and explore the uncharted waters of photoconductivity. He learned that when light strikes a photoconductive material, the electrical conductivity of that material is increased.