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A Brief History behind Office Copy Machines


If you work in an office or handle paperwork in general, chances are you have a copy machine in your place of business. Copy machines are essential for day-to-day business tasks, and they have evolved considerably to adapt to the needs of the workplace. Keep reading to learn how the best copy machines got their start.

The Early Printing Era

Some history buffs would pin the start of the early printing era on the invention of Gutenberg's press in the 15th century. However, Chinese monks were using a primitive method of reproductive printing long before Gutenberg. During the reign of the T’ang Dynasty (618-909 AD), monks would carve images and words into word blocks. They would then coat the block with ink and stamp them to a sheet of papyrus. Similarly, Johannes Gutenberg also used carved block letters or “movable type” coated in ink to create and reproduce whole pages. Books no longer had to be recreated by hand, and the mass-production of pamphlets and newspapers became the precursors to the Industrial Revolution as well as the Information Age.

An Idea Evolves

When the invention of the steam engine, the Industrial Revolution transformed a century. The printing press evolved from Gutenberg's movable type to the assembly line where hundreds of copies could be made using the rotary press in just a few hours. The printing press inspired people like David Gestetner to develop a means of recreating print without typesetting during the late 1800s. His machine, the Gestetner Cyclograph, used the stencil method and wax paper to reproduce identical documents. While the stencil-method was messy and time-consuming, Gestetner is credited with introducing the concept of small-scale print reproduction for office use.

The Rise of Xerography

The copy machine started to take shape finally in the early 1900s when Chester Carlson, a part-time inventor, developed the concept of dry electrophotography. Carlson pitched his idea to several companies, including IDM and Kodak, but he was turned down. It wasn’t until 1947 that Carlson got his break. The Haloid Corporation--a photographic paper manufacturer--picked up Carlson’s technology and obtained a license to make and market the first copying machine. Haloid insisted on changing the name, however, from electrophotography to xerography, a term derived from the Greek words for “dry writing.” His first official model, the Xerox 914, was the most successfully launched office product of all time.

Office Copier

The Modern Coping Machine

The Xerox Corporation quickly became one of the largest office equipment manufacturers in the world following the success of the 914. Its creation spurred other industry innovations like the creation of toner, laser printing, and digital scanning. Even as the industry moves away from paper towards more eco-friendly solutions, the copier is still an essential part of the office. Modern copiers use less ink, less electricity, and produce less waste than previous generations of copying machines, and they do far more than make copies. Copy machines in Anchorage, AK, take the hassle out of developing business presentations, stapling packets, and recreating color photos. They can also scan and send important digital information around the world in the blink of an eye. For more information on selecting and installing a new copier in your office, contact the experts at Arctic Office Products.

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