And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: February 8th, 1906, 109 years ago today . . . the day Chester Carlson was born in Seattle, Washington.
Trained as a scientist, Carlson was an office worker in New York City in the 1930s when he virtually single-handedly developed a new way to copy documents,
He called his process "electrophotography."
In 1947, a small company called Haloid bought the rights to his process, which was renamed "xerography" . . . a combination of the Greek words for "dry" and "writing."
Renamed Xerox in 1961, the company grew into a multi-billion dollar corporation.
The arrival of the first copier was a watershed day for any 1960s-era office, as depicted in the TV series, "Mad Men" ("Believe me, this machine is a gift to you girls!").
Corporate success is not without its drawbacks.
Xerox has had to wage vigorous trademark protection campaigns over the years, trying to discourage people from using "xerox" as a verb . . . or as a synonym for the copies themselves.
As for Chester Carlson, he died at the age of 62 in 1968, with many honors to his name.
And though the company is expanding beyond the copying technology he pioneered, it's a safe guess that people will be making copies with Xerox machines for a long time to come.
Forget those sheets of carbon paper,
Used so much in days of old.
Today folks copy on machines,
As Chester Carlson once foretold.
For more info:
- Chester Carlson and Xerography (Xerox.com)
- "Copies in Seconds: How a Lone Inventor and an Unknown Company Created the Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg - Chester Carlson and the Birth of Xerox" by David Owen (Simon & Schuster); Also available in eBook format