There are many types of printing in the world, and we have quite a few of them here at our copy shop! The primary method we use is offset printing, where the ink is rolled against the paper. Offset printing produces the highest quality and is mostly used for large orders.

But we also do a lot of photocopying, a process that has an interesting history. That’s what we’re going to take a look at today. But before we deal with the history, you have to ask yourself…

How Do Photocopiers Work?

Most photocopies of today are made through a process known as xerography. When you put a piece of black and white paper into a photocopier to be copied, a high-powered lamp reflects the image onto a drum. The drum is electrically-charged with a positive charge. Any parts of the image to be copied that are black (i.e. text) are negatively charged, so the drum carries that negatively-charged image (essentially an electrical shadow) of the text down to the toner.

The toner is positively charged, so the toner particles are attracted to the negatively-charged areas of the drum. The drum then transfers the toner ink to a new sheet of paper, which is then passed through two hot rollers to permanently affix the toner to the paper. Voila, you now have a black and white copy of the original! (Color copies work on a similar principal but are considerably more complex, so we’ll just skip that process for now.)

Who Do We Thank?

Back in the late 1930s, a man named Chester Carlson worked as an attorney and sometimes-inventor. As an attorney, he had to make many copies of the legal papers. This was bad enough on its own, but Carlson was also arthritic. At the time, most copies were made with carbon paper, which was a messy process that made copies that were “good enough” at best. If you didn’t have carbon paper, everything had to be copied by hand.

Carlson started experimenting with ways to make a copy of existing materials. Using a rudimentary version of the process detailed above. On October 22, 1938, he made the first image created electrostatically.

So He Was An Overnight Success, Right?

Unfortunately, the need for photocopying wasn’t immediately apparent to companies of the time. More than 20 technology companies turned Carlson down (including General Electric and IBM), saying that they didn’t think the business world would be interested. While this might seem insane considering the amount of photocopy paper seen in the offices of today, it’s hard to turn a aircraft carrier like the business world.

Finally, Someone Understood

Between 1944 and 1947, Carlson advanced the process with the help of a non-profit company, and in 1947 the technology was sufficiently refined to be licenced to a company who wanted to make his copy machines. He coined the term xerography, which loosely translates to “dry writing.” A year later he trademarked the name Xerox.

Whoa, We’re Dealing With Xerox Here?

The very same! In 1949, Xerox introduced their first model of copy machine. Businesses caught on fast to the benefits of this new technology, and Xerox soon became a household name as the company grew.

The Legacy

While many types of copying technology were invented in order to compete with this newfound interest in copied documents, none of them caught on like the “electrophotography” that Carlson started back in 1938. Today it’s nearly impossible to find a machine in an office that doesn’t owe its origins to Chester Carlson.

We use photocopy machines in our copy shop every day, but it’s not often that we stop and think about the wonders of this technology. But when you need multiple copies that have to look good, like legal copies for a court case, Blue Dog Graphics is there to help. Find out more by clicking right here!