Posts Tagged Chester Carlson

A Brief History of Photocopiers, by David G. Jorgensen

In 2000, David G. Jorgensen became Chairman of Katun Corporation, the imaging supplies company that he co-founded in 1979. Katun grew to become the largest supplier of alternative OEM parts for photocopiers. Over the course of the nation’s history, some great inventions have been born from the minds and hands of a group of creative inventors.

Carlson, who used his legal training to patent each step of his invention.

Chester Floyd Carlson (February 8, 1906 – September 19, 1968) posted at bygoneli.com .

In other cases, a life-changing device, practice, or idea can be traced back to an individual. While many have improved on the photocopier’s design and efficacy over time, only Chester Carlson can take credit for the advent of photocopying in 1938.

A patent attorney, researcher, and inventor, Carlson often found himself making dozens of copies of important papers. But this laborious work aggravated his arthritis, leading him to experiment with photoconductivity. After a few years of work performed in his kitchen, Carlson experienced a breakthrough. Covering a zinc plate with sulfur, Carlson slid a microscope slid bearing an engraving on top of yet more sulfur and placed beneath a light. When he removed the slide, an exact image of the words remained behind.

First Xerographic Copy.

World's First Xerox Image. Posted by Macwhiz

The part-time inventor immediately put his full-time knowledge of patents to use and filed a patent for the process that he called electrophotography. Astonishingly, Carlson had a difficult time selling his method. After more than 20 rejections, Carlson evaluated his process and decreed it underdeveloped. Most major organizations like IBM and General Electric used time-proven methods and saw no need for Carlson’s fledgling technology. In 1944, the Battelle Memorial Institute reached out to Carlson and asked him to let them help refine his electrophotography process. Several years and dozens of experiments later, a small New York-based photographic paper seller wished to obtain a license to use the now-developed technology. There was just a problem with the name.

Deeming “electrophotography” too complicated and unintuitive, Carlson worked with the corporation’s leaders to come up with a new name, xerography, derived from Greek words that meant “dry writing.” With the new name in place, the corporation, Haloid, created copier machines that incorporated the technology, dubbing them Xerox machines. In 1948, the term “Xerox” was trademarked, and the Xerox Corporation was born.

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