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The Xerox Inventor

Chester Carlson the inventor

The idea of “dry copying” paper has been a reality for less than sixty years. Before “dry copying” workers were either forced to copy by hand or use a number of less efficient “wet copying” or photographic methods. Many inventors conceive of ideas and then figure out how to develop a functioning form factor.


For Chester Carlson, the inventor of modern “Xerography” developing a “dry copying” machine was a lifelong pursuit. Interested in printing as a child, Carlson became a patent lawyer in the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Frustrated with having to hand copy ever patent he filed, Carlson read an article from Europe that gave him some insight as to how he might figure out the “dry copying” process. After years of trial and error, which included nearly setting fire to his kitchen with plates of burning sulfur, in 1938 Carlson succeeded in making his first copy.

Carlson then went to look for a company that would believe in his product and produce a copying machine. He took his idea to the Haloid, a company in Rochester, NY; who agreed to put engineers on the job. Carlson and the engineering team worked for nearly ten years to produce the first “XEROX” machine. Haloid went on to change its name to XEROX and the rest is history. XEROX went on to change nearly every office in America.