STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

How Xerox became a verb

Before you could Google a fact, you could Xerox a document.In 1959, Xerox debuted the first photocopier, a pro...

Posted: Jan 31, 2018 9:17 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2018 9:17 PM

Before you could Google a fact, you could Xerox a document.

In 1959, Xerox debuted the first photocopier, a product that would become ubiquitous in offices around the world.

Companies and businesses raced to add the new Xerox 914 to their offices. Other tech companies, such as IBM, soon followed Xerox and started making copiers.

"The copier was the probably the most successful industrial product of its time," said Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of "Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age."

Xerox was an innovation machine. In the 1970s, it created two-sided copying and the first laser printers. The following decade, it rolled out dual-beam laser printing, which paved the way for high-speed printing.

The photocopier became so successful, "Xerox" became a verb -- like "Google," "Scotch Tape," "Jet Ski," and "FedEx."

But the past decade hasn't been so kind to the company. On Wednesday, Japan's Fujifilm announced it was taking a controlling stake in Xerox and cutting 10,000 jobs.

Xerox was swallowed up in the digital era by a different technology it helped pioneer: personal computers.

Related: Fujifilm takes control of Xerox and cuts 10,000 jobs

Scientists, engineers and researchers at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Company (PARC) tried to build the future of office computing in the early 1970s.

In 1973, PARC researchers built Xerox Alto, the world's first personal computer with a mouse connected to a graphical interface screen. The lab invented Ethernet cables too.

Yet Xerox missed out on the pot of gold it discovered.

"Xerox's entire being was geared toward building and exploiting the copier," said Hiltzik.

In 1979, Steve Jobs and toured Xerox's Palo Alto facility. Xerox had been an early investor in Apple before it went public in 1980.

Although an urban myth has evolved that Jobs stole Xerox's idea, Jobs and Apple had already been working on developing a visual interface. His visits to Xerox left him and lieutenants, including Bill Atkinson, even more convinced they were on the right track, said Hiltzik.

Four years later, Apple's released Lisa, its first computer with a mouse.

Apple was nimble and better positioned to bring its fledgling new technology to mass market because it "didn't have a legacy to protect," said Hiltzik.

"Xerox was too big and too focused to move wholesale into an entirely new business," he added.

Huntsville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 75°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 78°
Fayetteville
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 73°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
Scottsboro
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 123914

Reported Deaths: 1233
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby23485308
Davidson20722217
Rutherford658955
Hamilton622053
Knox468540
Williamson357725
Sumner344972
Unassigned31424
Out of TN294714
Wilson232123
Bradley195613
Montgomery195213
Sevier18947
Putnam178518
Trousdale15836
Robertson156720
Hamblen140514
Blount131411
Washington12772
Maury12727
Tipton121110
Madison116018
Sullivan103714
Hardeman93017
Bedford92811
Macon86013
Lake7920
Loudon7493
Gibson7266
Bledsoe7081
Fayette7028
Dickson6982
Anderson6936
Dyer6638
Henderson6043
Cheatham5997
Jefferson5844
Obion5794
Lawrence5756
McMinn55320
Coffee5483
Rhea5382
Warren5334
Carter5246
Lauderdale5148
Haywood5106
Greene5048
Roane4852
Hawkins4837
Hardin4828
Cocke4783
Weakley4634
Cumberland4586
Smith4554
Monroe4529
Giles38513
McNairy3815
DeKalb3652
Franklin3324
Carroll3253
Lincoln3091
Marshall3044
White2945
Henry2900
Johnson2850
Claiborne2760
Hickman2730
Crockett2695
Campbell2541
Wayne2282
Marion2274
Chester2232
Decatur2163
Polk2073
Grainger2000
Overton1981
Unicoi1690
Union1620
Benton1591
Cannon1510
Jackson1291
Humphreys1283
Morgan1261
Scott1220
Grundy1142
Meigs1060
Sequatchie1060
Fentress960
Hancock812
Perry810
Clay780
Stewart780
Lewis741
Moore610
Houston590
Pickett371
Van Buren360

Community Events