The Columbus Connection

An office place anniversary has given the folks at CNN an excuse to trot out a photo of Rob Schneider and his very old SNL catch phrase.

Start of Something Big

It was 50 years ago this month that Haloid Xerox sent the first copying machine to a paying customer. There have been a lot of jammed copying machines since then.  Chester Carlson, a lawyer in New York, came up with the idea during the Depression, but it took him a heck of long time to get his idea off the ground. But after a failed marriage, a lot of hours put in by engineers and a pot-load of money, they got plain paper copying to work, dooming the mimeograph to the dustbin of history (which was a shame, ’cause I think you could get a buzz sniffing mimeo forms).

The first machines were so expensive, Xerox leased them to customers and took a fee for anything over 2,000 copies. Needless to say, the money started rolling in. The stories about the anniversary seem to be leaving a little something out. When I was growing up in Columbus, Ohio, we’d always hear stories about research institute near the Ohio State campus and how it played a major role in the development of the workable copier.

Battelle's original building

Battelle Memorial Institute developed the first nuclear fuel rods, advances that helped lead to the compact disc and a couple of their engineers started working with Carlson in 1944. Their efforts led to the first commercial xerography. The fees they picked up from Xerox have made Battelle a very rich non-profit applied science and technology development company.

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