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 user 2009-11-24 at 10:15:25 am Views: 40
  • #22992

    Xerox set
    to mark 50th anniversary of venerable 914 copier

    The old Xerox 914 copier tucked into a small
    alcove on the second floor of Xerox Square barely shows its age, with a
    few flecks of rust on the table-sized piece of beige office
    equipment.And around the machine stands the 30-story corporate tower
    that it helped build.Fifty years ago this fall, Rochester-based Haloid
    Xerox launched the 914, which made photocopying cheap, easy and
    ubiquitous. And its subsequent success helped make what is now known as
    Xerox Corp. — a Connecticut-based Fortune 500 firm that employs close to
    7,000 in the Rochester area and 54,000 worldwide.”It’s foundational to
    the company,” said Steve Hoover, vice president of Xerox’s Global
    Software and Solutions group. “It’s what really transitioned Haloid from
    a company that made photographic paper to a company that was in the
    business of documents. (And) it really changed the face of the office.”

    Friday, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns will host a reunion of retirees involved
    with the 914 at the company’s Webster campus, marking that
    anniversary.The company unveiled the product at a New York City trade
    show on Sept. 16, 1959, and then began turning out the 600-pound pieces
    of equipment from a factory on Orchard Street on Rochester’s northwest
    side, with the first reaching customers in early 1960.

    And the
    story of the 914 has become stuff of business-class curricula and the
    2004 history book Copies in Seconds: How a Lone Inventor and an Unknown
    Company Created the Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg.

    Joseph C. Wilson’s Haloid Xerox unveiled the Xerox machine — based on a
    process developed by inventor and physicist Chester Carlson — copying a
    piece of paper was limited largely to cumbersome, costly options as
    carbon paper, a lithograph machine and such chemically based processes
    as 3M Co.’s Thermo-Fax and Eastman Kodak Co.’s Verifax.

    The 914 —
    and the photocopying process overall, including numerous Xerox products
    to this day — are based around “xerography” or “electro photography,”
    which uses a drum charged with static electricity to attract tiny
    particles of toner that then get melted into place on the sheet of

    And while Wilson had shopped the technology around to such
    potential investors as IBM, most indications were that demand for such a
    product would be slim at best.”Joe Wilson … made a decision to raise
    money, to work through friends here in Rochester and proceed on the 914
    on his own — a very small company spending money they didn’t have for a
    product nobody wanted,” said 86-year-old Horace Becker of Penfield, who
    was chief engineer for the 914. (“I’m not an inventor — I’m neither the
    father nor the mother of the 914, I’m the midwife,” he said.)

    Haloid’s 914 was an untested product from a relatively unknown company,
    the firm started out leasing the machines to customers.”The rest is
    history,” said Becker, who retired in 1988. “The orders started to roll
    in. We started with the idea we’d build five a day (at the Orchard
    Street plant). Then we moved to 25 a day. When we finally moved out of
    Orchard Street to Webster, we were building over 100 a day.”

    to Xerox, the company ultimately produced more than 200,000 914s
    between 1960 and the early 1970s.”The interesting thing is, the demand
    was so high that before we made hardly any return on our investment (on
    the 914), the marketing people already were saying we needed something
    … smaller and faster,” Becker said.”Almost before we made a dime on
    the 914, we actually started to draw pictures of what was to become the

    The xerographic process for one of Xerox’s digital iGen4
    presses is fundamentally the same today as it was for a 914, though
    today’s technology uses a laser instead of a flash of light to expose
    the image, Hoover said.And while Xerox today also has a variety of
    inkjet printing products, he said, “I don’t think we are in any way
    looking for the end of the evolution of xerography. We have significant
    investments to continue to improve it.”

    Additional Facts
    # The 914 name came from the fact the machine could photocopy
    images as large as 9 inches by 14 inches.
    # The first photocopy took
    about 15 seconds, with each subsequent copy taking a little more than 7