Where Were You On October 22, 1938?

Okay so I wasn’t around yet but today, Tuesday October 22, 2013, is the 75th  anniversary of the day the first xerographic image was produced and Xerography began.  It is amazing to think how far the xerographic technology has come in that time.  Back on October 22, 1938 Chester Carlson, a patent attorney and part-time inventor, made the first xerographic image.  The first image was a hand written note that simply read “10-22-38 ASTORIA”. The copy is preserved in the Smithsonian Institution.

Business might still be making copies with carbon paper if Chester Carlson had not been laid off in 1933 from Bell Telephone Laboratories.  Carlson was unemployed so he returned to school and earned a law degree.  He then took a job in the patent department of an electronics firm in New York.  Mr. Carlson became frustrated with the tedious process of copying patent drawings by hand, so he began experimenting in a makeshift laboratory behind a beauty parlor in Astoria, Queens in New York City with using electrostatic attraction to adhere powder to plain paper.  In 1938 he successfully copied the date and location, “10-22-1938 ASTORIA” onto plain paper.

In 1942, Carlson received a patent and then in 1947 the Haloid Co. won commercial rights to xerography and became Xerox.  In 1959, Xerox sold the first automatic copier the Xerox 914 Copier and the rest, as they say, is history. If Carlson were still alive he might be surprised to learn his invention began an information revolution that has continued to this day, making information readily available and expanding the world’s total knowledge. Infotrends, an independent industry consultancy, estimates that over 3 trillion copies and prints were made around the world last year on products fathered by Carlson’s invention.

I have included a video of the evolution of Xerox – 75 years in 75 seconds.  Find out more about the history at Xerox.com and at the Celebrating 75 years of Xerography.  You can read the full history in the Story of Xerography .  Just imagine what the next 75 years will hold!

“Today, we celebrate our history, but we’re not just looking back.  We’re celebrating the future and how Xerox will continue to simplify the way work gets done.” – – Ursala Burns, Chairman and CEO

READER’S ASSIGNMENT – Your mission, if you choose to accept it and I hope you do, is to leave a comment on this post about how xerography has impacted your business or life.

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