Wednesday 25 September 2019

Xerox 914 (1959)

Xerox 914 plus contemporary advertising
Launched September 1959

Pretty much ever since human beings invented paper, they’ve wanted an easy way to copy what was written, printed or drawn on that paper. One Wednesday in September 1958 – about 2000 years after paper was invented – there was finally a solution.

The Xerox 914 was the fruit of a two-decade development of a dry copy processes called xerography, a technology that had been acquired by the Haloid Company of New York. Able to copy full-sized documents onto plain paper, the 914 was a significant technological advance over the slower, messier methods that had gone before.

Weighing nearly 300 kilograms and with a large footprint as well, the 914 was pretty big but still quite usable as a departmental copier. With an ability to copy 100,000 pages per month at 7 sheets per minute, the 914 is still pretty competitive by modern standards.

If you wanted to buy one it was phenomenally expensive at $27,500 (roughly equivalent to a quarter of a million dollars today) or apparently you could rent one for just $95 a month plus a charge for each copy made.

It has its problems though, notably paper jams could result in a small fire which later models of 914 dealt with by including a small fire extinguishers euphemistically called a “scorch guard”.  Despite this the Xerox 914 was a huge success, shipping 200,000 units until the end of production in 1976. Haloid even changed its name to Xerox after its best-known line of products.

A behemoth such as the Xerox 914 is hardly a collectable item, and given that probably most of them were rented you are probably unlikely to stumble across one. But perhaps there are still a few gathering dust in basements and store rooms…

Image credit: Xerox

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