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Mon Sep 16, 2019, 08:46 AM

60 Years Ago Today: The first commercial photocopier, Xerox 914, is introduced on live TV

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_914


A September 1959 advertisement for the Xerox 914

The Xerox 914 was the first successful commercial plain paper copier which in 1959 revolutionized the document-copying industry. The culmination of inventor Chester Carlson's work on the xerographic process, the 914 was fast and economical. The copier was introduced to the public on September 16, 1959, in a demonstration at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York, shown on live television.

Background
Xerography, a process of producing images using electricity, was invented in 1938 by physicist-lawyer Chester Floyd "Chet" Carlson (19061968), and an engineering friend, Otto Kornei. Carlson entered into a research agreement with the Battelle Memorial Institute in 1944, when he and Kornei produced the first operable copy machine. He sold his rights in 1947 to the Haloid Company, a wet-chemical photocopy machine manufacturer, founded in 1906 in Rochester, New York.

Haloid introduced the first commercial xerographic copier, the Xerox Model A, in 1949. The company had, the previous year, announced the refined development of xerography in collaboration with Battelle Development Corporation, of Columbus, Ohio. Manually operated, it was also known as the Ox Box. An improved version, Camera #1, was introduced in 1950. Haloid was renamed Haloid Xerox in 1958, and, after the instant success of the 914, when the name Xerox soon became synonymous with "copy", would become the Xerox Corporation.

In 1963, Xerox introduced the first desktop copier to make copies on plain paper, the 813. It was designed by Jim Balmer and William H. Armstrong of Armstrong-Balmer & Associates, and won a 1964 Certificate of Design Merit from the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI). Balmer had recently left Harley Earl, Inc., where he had been a designer since 1946, to co-establish Armstrong-Balmer & Associates in 1958. At Earl, Balmer had been involved in the Secretary copy machine designed for Thermofax and introduced by 3M in 1958, and Haloid Xerox had been impressed with the design, engaging Balmer to consult on the final design of the 914.

A year later, in 1964, Balmer worked with Xerox to establish their first internal industrial design group. Among those first design employees were William Dalton and Robert Van Valkinburgh.

Specifications and features
One of the most successful Xerox products ever, the 914 model (so-called because it could copy originals up to 9 inches by 14 inches (229 mm 356 mm)) could make 100,000 copies per month (seven copies per minute). In 1985, the Smithsonian received a Xerox 914, number 517 off the assembly line. It weighs approximately 650 pounds (294 kg) and measures 42" (107 cm) high 46" (117 cm) wide 45" (114 cm) deep.

The machine was mechanically complex. It required a large technical support force, and had a tendency to catch fire when overheated (Ralph Nader claimed that a model in his office had caught fire three times in a four-month period). Because of the problem, the Xerox company provided a "scorch eliminator", which was actually a small fire extinguisher, along with the copier. But despite these problems, the machine was regarded with affection by its operators, due to it being complex enough to be interesting to use, but without being so complex as to be beyond understanding.

The pricing structure of the machine was designed to encourage customers to rent rather than buy - it could be rented in 1965 for $95 a month, but would cost $27,500 to buy.

Sales
The 914 was a significant component of Xerox's revenues in the mid-1960s, with one author estimating that the machine accounted for two thirds of the company's revenue in 1965, with income generated of $243M. The machine was produced between 1960 and 1977.

Legacy
The company's subsequent models were the Xerox 710, the Xerox 1000, the Xerox 813 and the Xerox 2400. One writer has assessed that the popularity of the machine has had a number of lasting impacts, such as prompting the introduction of highlighter pens, and university reading lists in the form of anthologies, rather than chapters from separate books.

In popular culture
The arrival of a Xerox 914 is a cultural signifier in the 2nd series of Mad Men, set in a 1961 Manhattan advertising agency. It is acquired specifically to impress a potential client with how modern the agency is.

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although it gave the unfunny Rob Schneider a career.

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Reply 60 Years Ago Today: The first commercial photocopier, Xerox 914, is introduced on live TV (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Sep 16 OP
USALiberal Sep 16 #1
MineralMan Sep 16 #2
SharonAnn Sep 16 #3
mopinko Sep 16 #4
mopinko Sep 16 #5

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Sep 16, 2019, 08:49 AM

1. Great book about it.......

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

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Sep 16, 2019, 10:21 AM

2. I was responsible for one of those back in the day.

I hated that job with a fiery passion. The Xerox 914 was a horrible machine to keep working properly. Nobody was allowed to do anything to it without training. At the place I worked, there was someone whose full-time job was to wait by the copier for people who needed copies. Ordinary people couldn't even make a copy.

After about two months of that, I asked for and got a transfer to the warehouse.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 16, 2019, 11:22 AM

3. I was a "key operator" for a year. Loved that job!

Of course, I love computers, mechanical things, electromechanical things, etc.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 16, 2019, 12:09 PM

4. that was part of my work-study job in college.

that was in the 70's tho, and they werent that balky any more.
they still caught the flu from time to time, tho. and by then people depended on them like oxygen.
always a bad day.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Sep 16, 2019, 12:13 PM

5. xerox corp was a sneaky bunch.

i had a big old techtronix printer for several years.
the software was rigged to make you get service. at a certain print count, it would insist some part had to be replaced. i found out that there were "maintenance codes". you entered the code, it cleared the "error", and you were on your merry way.

i wonder how many of those notoriously frequent breakdowns were engineered that way?

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