Press "Enter" to skip to content

What is Technology?

Here are notes on the development of the xerox process.

As sources I’ve relied upon Hillkirk, John, and Gary Jacobson. 1986. Xerox: American Samurai. MacMillan. Typologies such as I used are standard, but Paul David may have been the first to set it forth carefully.

Chronology: I did not highlight this aspect in class. Notes on Xerox details are further down this page.

1839, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel noted interaction light and electrical properties
50 years
1887 Photoelectric effect, observations by Heinrich Hertz
18 years
1905 Albert Einstein. source of his Nobel prize, gave birth quantum mechanics
33 years
1938 invention by Chester Carlson (1942 patent)
6 years
1944 Battelle Institute prototypes, led to development contract with Haloid Corp 1947
5 years
1949 Model A first commercial product; 1950 Camera #1, improved version; 1955 Copyflow
10 years
1959 Xerox 914 first rotary drum machine
4 years
1963 first plain paper copier

50 years: initial observations to final science
51 years: initial science to first invention
11 years: first invention to first product
10 years: Generation I to Generation II (with intermediate steps)
4 years: Gen II to Gen III [understates: work on Gen III began prior to launch of Gen II, with pieces going back to the initial work by Carlson and Batelle]

Xerox development, more details
Photoelectric effect

observation 1887 Heinrich Hertz, building upon work on the impact of light on conductivity = photovoltaic cells: light on certain metals causes electron emission, but not consistent with wave theory as discrete, not linear

theory 1905 Albert Einstein working full time at the swiss patent office published four papers, the source of his Nobel prize in 1921. dual nature of light as particle and wave, gave birth to quantum mechanics.

in 1914 Robert Millikan confirmed experimentally the details, including link between frequency of light and energy of electrons emitted.

Chester Carlson 1938 invention, patent 1942. CalTech undergrad, worked at Bell Labs but fired in Great Depression, ended up after a law degree as a patent attorney at Mallory (now Duracell within P&G).

Battelle Institute 1944. IBM and GE had both turned down Carlson.
development contract Haloid Corp 1947; Xerox Model A in 1949. but manual, used to make offset masters. lithograph plate maker ca. 1954, then 1955 microfilm printer.

first rotary drum machine 1959 Xerox 914. at introduction, one caught fire.

1963 first plain paper copier.

development required lots of steps, from working with paper manufacturers, mechanical printing technologies, fine polishing for drums, electronics, chemical engineering for better toners, metallurgy for drums and heating element, and so on.

footnote: Carlson was once labeled among the richest men in the US, but believed to die rich was wrong and gave most of his wealth away from early on.