By Allie Philpin
Today we think nothing of heading down the corridor to the multi-function printer that is capable of copy information from one piece of paper to another numerous times, of scanning a document to electronically appear on your computer screen, of printing your letters, brochures and other documents from a remote location… But 75 years ago, it was a very different world!
75 years ago, Chester Carlson, a patent attorney and inventor, found a way of duplicating information on paper. Firstly called electrophotography and later re-named Xerography, Carlson’s invention was based on two naturally-occurring facts: that materials of opposite electrical charges attract, and that some materials are better conductors of electricity when exposed to light. His invention was the driving force behind propelling what was once a small photo paper company in Astoria, Queens, New York into what we know today as the Xerox Corporation.
Carlson’s dedication and insight into what was to become a phenomenon in the office world was admired the world over and he had one simple objective: “To make office work a little more productive and a little less tedious.” But what stood out for me was the fact that if he hadn’t collaborated with others 75 years ago, namely Otto Kornei, a physicist, and John Dessauer, chief of research at the Haloid Company at the time, his invention may not have been so successful. See, collaboration isn’t a recent invention… it’s centuries old, but we view the definition of collaboration much more globally now.
As I sat and watched Xerox’s YouTube video depicting 75 years of Xerox in 75 seconds, full of photos, news clips and old videos, I am struck by just how and why Xerography became the single most successful product of all time; how Carlson’s simple invention became the advanced, multi-functional process of today. And when you watch the video, and you’ll be compelled to watch it more than once, you’ll not only (if you’re of my generation anyway!) think to yourself, I remember that machine or I remember DocuTech, you’ll also say to yourself, I didn’t know Xerox was so much a part of the health and medicine, travel, transportation and telecommunications.
For Xerox, Carlson’s vision lives on and is an inspiration for the company today… collaboration, invention, creative, integration, but above all, striving for excellence in the provision of print and document management solutions.
Congratulations, Xerox on 75 years and the inspiration of one man.