18 Jan We’ve Come a Long Way: The History of the Copier
In the past, people would utilize carbon paper or mimeograph machines if multiple copies of a document were required. As hard as it is to believe, if only one copy of an important document was available, it would have to be copied by hand. Chester Carlson, a New York patent attorney, copied hundreds of documents as part of his job. Making these copies by hand was a painful process due to his arthritis. This led him to conduct experiments in photoconductivity. This work enabled him to make the first photocopy in his kitchen in 1938.
Carlson’s would eventually sell his idea to the Haloid Company, who developed the concept even further. The Haloid Company called the process of placing dry ink on paper xerography, a word derived from Greek words meaning “dry writing.” They began commercial release of their new Xerox machines in 1950. Several other companies began to produce their own brands of copiers over the ensuing decades. Some of them are now the market leaders in the industry despite the name Xerox being ubiquitous for making copies.
Advances in technology have brought color copying, laser printing and multifunction capabilities. Canon introduced the first color copier in 1973. It produced accurate reproductions as well as providing the ability to vary shading and fine details. Laser and digital copiers were introduced in the 1980s. These machines create copies faster and enable users greater flexibility, such as the ability to store jobs in the machine for later access.
The 1990s saw the introduction of the multifunction business machine. These machines incorporate printers, scanners, fax and copier functions in one unit. They are often fully integrated with an organization’s computer network. When combined with wireless Internet access, a user can now produce a copy from almost anywhere in the world. A far cry from the days of having to methodically recreate every detail by hand.
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