History of Copy Machines

choosing copiers

People are interested in the history of copy machines. It seems we went from Guggenheims press to where we are today, right? Not really, most want to know: How were they invented? When were they invented? How do they work with today’s technology?

It makes sense to be curious, it seems they have just been there when we needed them, and to be honest I hadn’t stopped to think about the history of copy machines for a long time. We have been selling copier technology things for over 20 years, remembering how they started could be a challenge.

A history of copiers, as we can remember.

Copy Machines

The copier machine, also known as the photocopier, was officially invented in 1937 when inventor Chester Carlson invented a process called electron photography.

Carlson ended up inventing the photocopier the same way a lot of things get invented — he wanted a more efficient way to complete an everyday task.

Carlson’s job at a patent office required him to make large numbers of copies every day — which was expensive and difficult to accomplish at the time.

For 15 years Carlson worked on perfecting a way to transfer images from one piece of paper to another using static electricity. When he invented what he called “electron photography”, he filed a patent.

It was almost one year to the date of the patent filing that Carlson created the first photocopy using the process that he later renamed to “Xerography”.

Xerography garnered Carlson worldwide acclaim, as it was his invention that created the billion-dollar copier industry we know today.

Copiers Joining the Mainstream

Xerography was not an overnight success. Carlson shopped around the idea for 10 years before he found a company willing to help him develop the process.

Carlson teamed up with The Haliod Company to help develop his process for creating copies — that company later became known as the Xerox Corporation.

The Haliod Company produced the world’s first office photocopier in 1955, called the Copyflo. It was not nearly as successful as the Xerox 914, which was invented in 1958 and sold thousands of units.


For a long time the Xerox Corporation held a monopoly on the copier industry. It certainly helped that they held a patent, but even when other companies were able to produce copiers using Xerox’s method, they weren’t trusted.

Before long, photocopiers started being called “Xerox machines”, and one could hardly envision a time when the market wasn’t dominated by one company.

Of course, knowing what we know now, Xerox is hardly the leader in photocopiers anymore. Now we have Ricoh, Sharp,  and many other that have beaten the giant at its own game. Today you all have a multitude of choices when it comes to your copier machines, we at Action Imaging Group would like that opportunity to serve you.

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