When Was The First Copy Machine Invented?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Before the copy machine existed, typists used carbon paper to make copies. This process resulted in low-quality, dirty copies. During the Industrial Revolution, the explosion of business demanded a more efficient means of duplication than the carbon paper copy method, which led to the Mimeograph, invented by Thomas Edison. It was also referred to as a stencil duplicator.

To use the Mimeograph, a special ink was applied to the machine. The paper that was going to be printed was positioned in the paper tray. A prepared stencil was wrapped around the cylinder as tightly and smoothly as possible.

Depending on the particular machine, the stencil was secured at one or both ends. As the cylinder rotated, a pressure roller inside the machine kept the paper right up against the cylinder. The roller pushed the ink through the stencil openings onto the paper.

On August 8, 1870, Edison was granted US patent 180,857 for “Autographic Printing.” The patent covered the flatbed duplicating process as well as the electric pen that was used for making the stencil. In 1880, Edison received a second patent, US 224,665, for “Method of Preparing Autographic Stencils for Printing.” This patent covered the creation of stencils using a grooved metal or file plate. The stencil would be placed on the file plate. When someone wrote on it with a blunt metal stylus, the plate perforated the stencil.

Oscar Gregory invented the next copy machine, the Photostat copy machine, in 1907. It was an early projection photocopier. A trained operator was required to run this very expensive, very large machine. It was only a viable option for large corporations. The term Photostat later became a general term used for similar machines that the Rectigraph Company produced.

George C. Beidler founded the Rectigraph Company in the early 1900s and then moved to New York a couple years later to be closer to the Haloid Company, his primary source for photographic paper and chemicals. Haloid acquired Rectigraph in 1935. In 1948, Haloid purchased the rights to produce Chester Carlson’s xerographic equipment. Haloid Xerox reorganized the firm in 1958 and renamed it the Xerox Corporation in 1961. The Xerox machine made duplication possible with electrostatic copying. This process is quick and inexpensive.

Copiers have revolutionized the way modern companies conduct their daily business. High end copiers can produce copies at a rate of 150 pages per minute or higher and can communicate with computer networks. We are fortunate creative thinkers in the late 1800s invented the technology that made this copy machine, and consequently modern business, possible.

UCI is a comprehensive copier company in Amarillo, Texas, with extensive services for copiers, printers and scanners. When you’re ready to buy your next copier or you need servicing for a printer or scanner, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Contact us to learn more.