Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Xerox machine's 50th-anniversary (paper) jam


In 1960 -- 50 years ago this month -- a Space Age early adopter opened his checkbook, and the Haloid Xerox Co., sealed the deal for its first sale of a plain-paper copier.

"The contraption was the size of two washing machines, weighed 648 pounds and had to be turned on its side to fit through doorways," says a story on CNN.com. "It also occasionally caught on fire."
But it revolutionized the workplace as we know it.

"It's hard to imagine now, because we take it so much for granted. But it took human communication forward a huge step," said David Owen, author of "Copies in Seconds: Chester Carlson and the Birth of the Xerox Machine."

"It was a product no one knew they needed until they had it."

It was also a product that many loved to hate. The earliest models were so unreliable that Haloid Xerox's repair crews got emergency calls almost daily. In the cult hit movie "Office Space," three oppressed cubicle drones take a balky machine -- some say it's not a copier but a fax machine or a printer -- into a field and smash it to pieces.

In today's digital age, a machine that copies paper feels like a quaint mechanical relic. And in most offices, the traditional copier has been eclipsed by the Internet-connected, multipurpose printer.

SHORTLY AFTER that first delivery of the Xerox 914, an office jokester made the world's first photocopy of the human posterior. (Not the actual first butt-cheek xerographic reproduction.)

Neither the American office, nor the life of the average American college student,
would be the same.

Nor, several decades later, would this guy's gluteus maximus.

0 snappy rejoinders: