SOURCE: Battelle

independent R&D organization, Battelle, lab management

March 30, 2010 17:15 ET

Battelle Celebrates Its Role in Invention of Office Copier

Inventor Carlson, Battelle Only Ones to See Its Potential

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwire - March 30, 2010) -  Battelle scientists played a little-known but critical role in the development of the office copier when the first one was delivered to a customer in March 1960.

The idea of making quick copies on regular paper was a long time coming. Most didn't see its potential when Chester Carlson first conceived of it in 1935. He was a patent attorney who was exasperated with the difficulty, mess and expense of making extra copies of patent specifications. Through research, hard work and will power, he created a process and patented it in 1937, making the first successful dry copy the next year. But he needed capital and technical expertise to further develop the machine, so he shopped his invention to more than 20 American businesses, finding closed doors at every turn.

But in 1944, he came to Columbus, Ohio to visit Battelle, a nonprofit research and development organization for which he handled some contracts as a patent attorney. When Carlson told Battelle scientists about his invention, they saw the broad applications for such a machine that others had not.

Battelle signed a contract to develop the process. Battelle scientists worked to find out what worked and what didn't and how to improve the powder image. By 1946, Battelle asked Haloid, a small New York photocopy business, to sponsor further development. A professor at The Ohio State University helped coin the name, xerography (dry writing in Greek), and Haloid eventually became Xerox.

In 1948, the first xerographic image was produced in public, in Detroit at the American Optical Society meeting. The next year, Haloid created a machine, "the Model A," to use the technology to make lithographs, but it would take more than a decade to get low-cost, convenient copiers into offices. In 1959, the 914 copier (named because it could make copies on sheets as large as 9 by 14 inches) was ready to change the world.

Battelle is founded on the principle of taking innovations from the laboratory to the showroom floor in expeditious fashion. The invention of the modern day copier is one of the best examples one could cite for this directive, which came from the will of founder Gordon Battelle. Evidence of this can be found in the United State Senate's Congressional Record, when a commendation for its role in the development of dry copying was read on Sept. 26, 2008.

Battelle is the world's largest independent R&D organization, as well as one of the nation's leading charitable trusts, focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science and math education. Please visit www.battelle.org.

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