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History

Wednesday, 2 August, 2006
  • 1910: Albert Blake Dick introduces the mimeograph. By 1920, the A.B. Dick Company’s equipment becomes the standard for very small press runs in offices and educational institutions.
  • 10-22-38 Astoria
  • November, 1940: Chester Floyd Carlson of Astoria, Queens, New York is awarded “U.S. Patent 2,221,776 (11.19.40), Electron photography” for his dry-ink electrical reproduction process. His employer, The P.R. Mallory Company, has no interest in developing the idea, electing to focus resources on their “Duracell” acid-free or alkaline dry-battery system. Mallory’s battery process would not be adapted into a consumer product until the sixties.
  • 1942-1945: The industrial concerns and government of the United States focus exclusively on military applications for technology during World War II.
  • August 1944: Battelle Memorial Institute of Rochester, New York and Carlson agree to develop Carlson’s patent into a commercial product. The project is assigned to Roland M. Schaffert, a Ph.D. level physicist and former letterpress operator.
  • January 1947: Battelle, Schaffert, Carlson and the fledgling Halloid corporation also of Rochester, NY agree to produce “eletro-photography” equipment.
  • October 1948: Public demonstration of a electo-photographic system for duplicating technical diagrams, intended to replace “blue line” spirit-based systems.

    The whole process was inefficient and was not practical when making a dozen or more copies. It took fourteen different steps by the user and some forty-five seconds to produce a single copy. These flat plate machines were rejected for being too complicated.

  • 1949-1960: Haloid attempts to refine the process into a consumer device which would compete with Edwin Land’s camera introduced by Polaroid.
  • 1955: [may be apocryphal] Just off campus from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey a storefront printing shop adds mimeograph equipment to it’s consumer offerings. They refer to the process in their retail environment as “copies”.
  • ca. 1957 (documents are unclear): A number of faults with the system are addressed, and a trademark is registered. A linguist at Ohio State suggests a combination of “xero” meaning dry and “graph”, for writing to describe the new process, “xerography”. In casual usage around Haloid, the machine is thereafter called “the xerocks”, which inspired the original trade name “XeroX”. The final capitalised X is in imitation of Eastman-Kodak’s logo of the time.
  • October 1957: The first Haloid XeroX Model A is introduced, and the first installations are at the Battelle Institute and Western Electric-Bell Laboratories in Manhattan. The “A” utilizes a two-stage process and produced no more than seven images or “copies” per minute.
  • February 1959: Halloid introduces the XeroX 914. This machine introduces the familiar one-step (for the operator) process, and can manipulate paper up to 9 inches wide to 14 inches long. The machines at Battelle and Bell are replaced directly with others to follow before 1961. This machine becomes very popular with legal firms in large cities. By 1970, every Fortune 100 company has at least one 914 install. This is regarded by the successor to Haloid as the first copier. It produces 20 copies per minute. Most installations are without charge with the client company buying only the copies the machines make. By 1962 the use of the machine, and the results of the meter going up one with every copy made, are called “clicks”. [Your humble narrator had the opportunity to operate a 914 in 1982 at the South Central Bell offices in Paducah, Kentucky.]
  • July 1961: Haloid Corporation ends all other product lines, mostly photographic chemicals competing with Kodak, Polaroid and European companies, and takes the name Xerox Corporation.
  • ca. 1965: Commercial mimeography becomes a specialty within the printing business. “Copy Shops” start to appear, especially in California.
  • December 1967: An unknown location near Washington DC, widely presumed to be the Pentagon, takes the first installation of the Xerox 9000-series “Production Copier”. The U.S. Government eventually installs several dozen of these first around Washington, and later at every military base on this continent. The 9000 produces 60 copies per minute and features fifty collation bins. The machine itself is the size of a contemporary American car.
  • 1969: Paul “Kinko” Orfalea sets up shop on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. As an outdoor vendor on campus, his single, dated Xerox 914 consumed so much electricity his vending permit was soon suspended. He opened a store with two such machines in nearby Isla Vista, during 1970. He was in direct competition with the contemporary mimeograph-based copy shops who regarded Xerox equipment as too expensive to operate. By 1971 an undocumented handful of xerography storefront operations open, primarily on the coasts.
  • 1969: Kodak introduces the Ektaprint 200. These are cheaper to operate, dramatically simpler, and more reliable machines than the functionally similar 914. Because of the nature of operation, Kodak dominates the considerable market for legal copying by 1975.
  • 1977: Xerox demonstrates the “Laser Printer” which generates output from a digital source creating a bit mapped 144-dpi image.
  • 1972: Canon of Japan introduces a line of copiers in Japan and Europe. These are very small machines called “desktop copiers”. Initially the Canon machines are not reliable, but very, very cheap.
  • 1978: Xerox announces plans to develop a “dry-ink copier” capable of color photographic reproduction.
  • December 1980: The top grossing comedy of 1981 (U.S.), Nine to Five, is released. The film features a scene between Jane Fonda and a contemporary Xerox 9500 Production Copier. In brief, she is attempting to use the machine without training and, while the copier is functioning as designed, goes haywire. This was intended to be a product placement for Xerox, but failed as the term xerox, both as a noun and as a verb, had fallen into common parlance and the relatively small market for the machine created no response. Additionally, the scene implied that the 9500 was difficult to operate.
  • 1980: Xerox introduces the 10-series “Marathon” desktop copiers intended to compete with imported units. Kinko’s, Orfalea’s now-national company, introduces self-service with these devices.
  • 1983: Xerox introduces the Color Copier, with no other model name or number. This analog machine was all but prohibitively expensive, with little regard for color matching and had poor registration. Of the ca. 400 machines produced 200 went to Kinko’s who sold the output at $4.50 per “click”. In most operating regions, Kinko’s offered one such machine per region. The entire series was decommissioned by 1987.
  • 1985: Aldus PageMaker. What the application does is described as desktop publishing. PageMaker is the single application which drives the printing industry to the Macintosh platform.
  • 1986: Canon of Japan introduces a 400-dpi four-color digital copier, the CLC-100. CLC stands for Color Laser Copier. Within months it becomes the industry standard. It is replaced in 1990 by the legendary CLC-500. Both of these machines produce 4 images per minute. The laser technology is licensed from Apple computer. The machines, natively, provide interoperability with the Apple Macintosh system. The first retail installs sell images at a price comparable with the Xerox units.
  • 1983-1986: As part of a settlement agreement with Xerox, Apple Computer develops and introduces the LaserWriter 300-dpi dry-ink printer. This is regarded as the beginning of the age of desktop publishing.
  • 1988: The Xerox 5090, whose decedent machines are known as “50-series”, is introduced to replace the 9000 series. New features include the ability to print upon specially prepared tabs, on-line stitching, on-line tape binding and the ability to use up to three different paper types within one document.
  • 1989: Unknown location, The last new Xerox 9000-series, a 9350, is newly installed at a U.S. Naval Station.
  • 1990: No mimeograph shops are known to exist in North America.
  • April 1991: Xerox introduces the Docutech 135. It is a 135 click-per-minute 600-dpi black-only laser printer with integrated scanning function. The first installs are at universities, presumed to be the University of California system. The print engine is remarkably similar to the 50-series.
  • April 1992: The Xerox 5775 is tested in retail environments. The first ten installs are all at Kinko’s locations, six in New York City and four in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the introduction of digital color to the Xerox line. Xerox is the last copier company to add color permanently to its line up.
  • 1992: Adobe announces plans to create a fully portable generic document digital file format.
  • ca, 1992: Kinko’s standardizes on 99-cent, 11-inch color copies across the United States. Opens first shops in Europe (the Netherlands) and Japan.
  • 1996: The distinction between “desktop publishing” and “digital typesetting” ends.
  • 1999: The last 9000 install, at a Kinko’s in Washington state, is replaced with a Docutech 6135.
  • 1999: A consortium including Canon, Kodak and Heidelberg, a German offset and web press company, introduces the Digimaster line. This is the first system to compete directly with the Docutech.
  • 2001: The term “demand publishing” is coined. Utilizing the Docutech or similar equipment, with short-run finishing equipment, demand publishing allows very short runs of trade-paperback books. This becomes a specialty in 2005. The key to demand publishing is that the material published is typeset by the content provider.
  • 2003: Xerox introduces “in-line color” with a line of machines introduced under the name Nuvera. The top-of-the-line machine produces 150 clicks-per-minute black and 60 clicks-per-minute color, synchronized into one document. The dominance of Xerox’s Docutech line is limiting the number of Nuvera installs which feature a different interface and new print engine.
  • Any minute now: Paper becomes obsolete.
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