Wizardz print and design is 25 years old this year, and if it were not for photocopiers the company would perhaps not exist at all. Today people take printers and copiers for granted and they wonder how they would do without them. Modern machines are fast, reliable and produce outstanding prints, but have you ever stopped and thought about where photocopiers started?
Photocopying is a modern concept and the first photocopiers or at least the process of Electrophotography they rely on to produce prints was invented in 1937. Chester Carlson worked in the patent office in New York and was a researcher and inventor in his spare time. Every day he struggled to reproduce the many pages of paper needed by the office and he began to look into ways of reproducing prints on paper using static electricity. After 15 years of experimenting and testing he finally succeeded in his quest and patented a process we now know as Xerography. Using this new process of copying images from one piece of paper to another was quick and straight forward, the very first photocopier was the “10-22-38 Astoria”
The very first production photocopy machine was the Copyflo, produced and sold by Haloid Xerox in 1955. By the 1960’s new Photocopy Machines were introduced by Xerox and soon replaced carbon paper and clumsy duplicating machines. Xeroxing was the buzzword in offices around the globe as paper copies were produced by their thousands every day. Xerox it seemed had cornered the market.
The monopoly was to be short-lived; even in 1955, rivals were already developing their own machines using Electrophotography. Ricoh was one of the first to arrive and soon other companies better known for photography began to enter the market. From 1975, the dominance of Xerox was reduced and other players found their place and names we are familiar with today emerged in the printing and copying space. Names such as Minolta, Konica, Sharp, Panasonic and Canon arrived and stayed.
Xerox still held the trust in the market, the company was large and had a good customer base and this was surely enough to remain the leader. However what Xerox lacked was the personal touch, the personal service that Wizardz is known for, and the smaller brands capitalised on this by opening small, local offices.
Another tactic used by the Xerox rivals changed the way we knew printing and copying and gave us the terms we use today. The generic term “Xeroxing” had become popular, the new brands began to correct it to “Copying” and the “Xerox machine” was changed to the ‘Photocopier” or just “copier” for short. The sales reps didn’t know it at the time but they were changing the word as it was known to what we know now.
By the mid-1980s machines had become smaller, more efficient and Canon was the world leader. Photocopies were called just that and almost any company had access to a photocopy machine. This led to the start of copy shops where smaller companies needed access to the printing and copying capabilities larger companies had. Machines that could sort, file, copy in duplex and staple documents began to appear and printing and copying was finally automated.
By the end of the 1990s, nearly every small business had some form of printer or copier. There was still space, and still is space, for copyshops as the smaller machines despite their convenience are limited in functionality. The costs per copy was and still is surprisingly high, and in many cases when it comes to high volumes the machines are slow. Colour has become important today and the process created way back in 1937 has evolved to become one of the most valuable and most widely used anywhere on earth. Without the experiments of Chester Carlson we would not have the high volume copiers and scanners that Wizardz has used for the last quarter of a century. Printing and copying would still be cumbersome, time-consuming and messy and life would not be easy. Next time you come in and use Wizardz give some credit to the man in the patent office who found a way to copy images and save you time.