First Photocopier, the Xerox 914, is Introduced to the Market

The Xerox 914 was the first successful commercial plain paper copier which in 1959 revolutionized the document-copying industry.

The culmination of inventor Chester Carlson's work on the xerographic process, the 914 was fast and economical. The copier was introduced to the public on September 16, 1959, in a demonstration at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York, shown on live television.

One of the most successful Xerox products ever, a 914 model could make 100,000 copies per month. In 1985, the Smithsonian received a Xerox 914, number 517 off the assembly line. It weighs 648 pounds (294 kg) and measures 42" (107 cm) high x 46" (117 cm) wide x 45" (114 cm) deep.

The Xerox 914 was named because it could copy originals up to 9 inches by 14 inches (229mm x 356 mm). The company's subsequent models were the 720, the 1000, the 813 and the 2400.

A floor-mounted device, the external design was created by James G. Balmer of Armstrong-Balmer & Associates, in collaboration with engineers Don Shepardson, John Rutkus and Hal Bogdenoff of Xerox, who had developed an engineering prototype.

One disadvantage of the Xerox 914 was that it had a tendency to catch fire when overheated (Ralph Nader claimed that a model in his office had caught fire three times in a four month period). Because of the problem, the Xerox company provided a "scorch eliminator", which was actually a small fire extinguisher, along with the copier.

Balmer had recently left Harley Earl, Inc., where he had been a designer since 1946, to co-establish Armstrong-Balmer & Associates in 1958. At Earl, Balmer had been involved in the Secretary copy machine designed for Thermofax and introduced by 3M in 1958, and Haloid Xerox had been impressed with the design, engaging Balmer to consult on the final design of the 914.