Copulations: History of Copying
Copying existed long before digital printing and paved the way for the printing demand we see today.
Imagine the owners of the Haloid Company huddled around a table, Coca Cola in hand, asking themselves, “Is there a need for copying?” Haloid was founded in 1906 as a specialty coated paper business. So, it was no surprise that Chester Carlson got together with them in 1947 and demonstrated his wooden box concept of creating an image on paper using electrophotography, later called Xerography.
The guys sitting around the table decided, yes, there was a need to copy and went all in. They bought the rights from Carlson and set about creating a machine. By 1958 Haloid Xerox was formed and the 914 copier was introduced the following year. Haloid Xerox then became Xerox. After 113 years there has been a lot of water under that proverbial bridge, but we find ourselves asking the same question. “Is there a need to make a copy or print?” As with those living in Haloid Company times, there are always two camps: those that say “yes” and those who say “no”.
The difference then, of course, as those who said “no” just could not see the benefit of technological progress. Today, many say “no” because the technology of the paperless world is already here. Adopting new technologies just because the technology is here, however, is far from automatic and trillions of pages continue to be copied/printed each year, simply because we like our information on paper.
Whilst the first-ever copier was taking shape, it is interesting to know that the creative minds of the day were thinking of tomorrow’s technology. As captioned by Punch on December 26, 1906, the idea of wireless telegraphy shows a scene in Hyde Park London of him and her figures, sitting under a tree, antennae on their hats and wireless tape fed communication boxes on the laps. The lady gets a message from her admirer while her husband gets the latest horse racing data.
Fast forward 113 years and we see the scene is a commonplace now, where our personal communications devices dominate our lives as we are bombarded with information, texts, sexts, messages, emails, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facetime, and Twitter messages and videos all pushed through to our wireless smart devices. Some things never change. The fact they are not talking with each other is also mirrored today as everyone is so engrossed in their own IoT world that there is nothing to talk about. Sending a text is far less effort.
So, here we are 113 years after it all began, and we question how long the copy/print demand will last. But in all these 113 years I wonder how many $billions have been made in the copying industry or lost with business strategies that did not work. I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of people this industry has employed over 113 years as the dominance of power has ebbed from the USA to Japan and now to Zhuhai, China.
In 1906 the world population stood around two billion people with China at only 419 million and the British Empire at 390 Million. Today we have a world population clock that relentlessly ticks faster as the world population surpasses the 7.7 billion mark. China hits 1.42 billion now and the British Empire is no more. As Dylan sang, “The times they are–a-changing.”
It took the first 200,000 years of human history to reach the magic 1 billion and only 200 more years to reach 7 billion population worldwide. As consumers one and all I believe we will continue to need to print something. One thing’s for sure there’s a whole lot of copulations going on. Umm—who’s been getting my share?