Xerox Corporation History – The Way To Number One Photocopier

Xerox Corporation history

Xerox Corporation history. Image source: atyourservice.blogs.xerox.com

Xerox Corporation History – The Way To Number One Photocopier

The history of Xerox is traceable to Haloid, a photography-paper business that was established in 1906 in Rochester, New York. In 1912, the company was bought over by a businessman named Gilbert E. Mosher.

Haloid was ran profitably over the years that followed, and to broaden the company’s market share, it invested in developing better quality paper, which was launched in 1933. The product was an instant success, with sales reaching $1 million by 1934, taking the company above the impact of the severe economic depression at the time.

To wade off the stiff competition from new paper makers that sprouted up at the end of World War II, Haloid decided to develop new products. In 1947, the company entered into an agreement with Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio to create a photocopying machine based on xerography, a process that was newly invented by Chester Carlson in 1938. Xerography is a method of transferring images from one piece of paper to another using static electricity.

After completing work on the machine, it was launched in 1949. The machine, which was called XeroX Copier however seemed less efficient than was expected. A lot of manual processing was needed to operate it. Also, it was difficult and messy to use, coupled with the fact that it made many errors too frequently.

However, just as the machine project was about being declared a waste of time and money, Battelle engineers discovered that it made excellent masters for offset printing. This quality allowed it to sell heavily, with Haloid reinvesting proceeds from the sales into developing a second-generation xerographic copier.

XeroX Copier continued to sell massively and profitably through the early 1950s. Haloid’s other products, including its photographic paper and several new office photocopying machines.

With photocopying business going to be a significant part of its future business, Haloid changed its name to Haloid-Xerox in 1958. The company introduced its first automatic and plain-paper copier, the Xerox 914 copier, in 1960. To promote it on a tight budget, Haloid-Xerox placed ads in magazines and TV programs targeting business owners. The machines were also offered to small business owners on monthly lease for them to be able to afford them. This marketing strategy proved highly successful as Xerox 914 sold very well, exceeding the company’s expectation even though it was of large size (650-pound).

In 1970, Xerox opened the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California. This underscored the company’s determination to grow and lead the industry through developing innovative products.

The Center churned out several innovative inventions, which were unfortunately not maximally utilized by Xerox due to infighting between the people at PARC and those at the copier division. This resulted in Xerox introducing few new products to the market, and inadvertently opening the door for competitors to strike and cut into its market share.

IBM and Kodak launched their office copying machine in the 1970s, which were well received by buyers – especially Kodak’s more sophisticated copier. By 1985, Xerox’s domination of the photocopying industry was slashed to 40 percent from 85 percent that it was in 1974.

Also taking advantage of the disorganization in Xerox in the 1970s was the Japanese company Ricoh. Ricoh introduced into the U.S. market smaller, less expensive, simple machines which broke down less often compared to Xerox’s. Ricoh was targeting to capture the lower end of the market, and moving up from there. Canon, another Japanese company also came in 1980 to fight for a share in the upper end of the market.

In the face of the strong competitors trying to take its market leadership, Xerox began reorganizing quickly in the late 1970s. It finally started releasing new products in 1981, beginning with the Memorywriter typewriter, which sold massively, capturing more than 20 percent of the electric typewriting market. The Memorywriter was further improved on in 1983 to be able to store large amounts of data internally.

Xerox introduced the top selling 10-series copiers in 1982. These machines had microprocessors to regulate internal functions, and could perform different complicated tasks on different types of paper. They were also made smaller, and less liable to breakdown often compared to the company’s earlier copiers. And to protect its high-end market in the U.S. from Kodak threat, Xerox introduced copiers that made 70 or more copiers per minute.

In the 1990s, Xerox moved into digital technologies from analog. It introduced several new digital products, including digital copiers that had multiple functions, such as being printers, fax machines, scanners as well as copiers. By 1997, Xerox revenue from its digital product sale reached $6.7 billion. Xerox also started changing its image from a Photocopier to a Document company to reflect its huge involvement in producing a wide range of document processing products.

Today, Xerox continues to be market leader with its products sold in more than 130 countries across all the continents of the world.

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