“From a small seed, a mighty trunk may grow” – Aeschylus
The quote was proven when in 1938, Chester Carlson, a physicist, invented a process which uses a metal plate and dry powder to print images. After 20 years of the refinery, we got the first automated machine which printed copies using a document feeder, scanning light and a rotating drum.
Formerly founded as The Haloid Photographic Company, to manufacture photographic paper and equipment, fell into the hands of Joseph C. Wilson known as the “founder of Xerox”. In 1946, he signed an agreement with Carlson to commercialize the copying machine, which Carlson built. Haloid, father of Wilson, coined the term Xerography which means “dry writing”.
Before launching its first official equipment, Xerox analysed the market by introducing prototype hand-operated equipment known as the flat-plate 1385. It was not a useful copier because of its slow operational speed. Hence, it was used as a plate-maker for the Addressograph-Multigraph Multilith 1250 and related sheet-fed offset printing process in offset lithography market. Use of electrics turned it into a quick and reusable substitute for film. Starting as a supplier to the offset lithography duplicating industry, Xerox now wanted to capture some of offsets market share.
Then CopyFlo in 1955 was released which could produce positive prints from negative microfilm. Revenues from CopyFlo were healthy so Haloid changed its name to Haloid Xerox in 1958. Though the company was doing unbelievably well, Wilson was skeptical about launching a xerographic office copier as it was extremely costly. Because of his fear, he even offered to share the project with large companies but was rejected. Then Haloid was in a dilemma, either quit or go for it. Haloid chose the latter, putting all his eggs in one basket, for a product about which no one could say would either work or not.
Then, the world saw the revolutionary Xerox 914, “the most successful single product of all time”. Developed by Carlson and John H. Dessauer, the Xerox 914 had almost $60 million in revenue by the end of 1961 which increases to $500 million by 1965.
Xerox’s first strike into duplicating was with Xerox 2400, where 2400 meant the number of prints produced in an hour. This product was further developed to Xerox 3600 Duplicator.
Meanwhile, 914 were developed to LDX where the two copiers connected through a public telephone network, such that the document scanned on one machine and print out another. Thus, today’s Fax Machines came into existence.
In the 1960s, Xerox acquired a number of companies. Under the presidentship of Archie McCardell, Xerox introduced its first colour copier, Xerox 6500. In the mid-1970s, Xerox 9200 Duplicating system was introduced followed by 9400 and then by 9500.
In 1975, Xerox debuted an advertising campaign featuring Jack Eagle who became the face of Xerox in the 1980s. Following the years of profits, Xerox resolved an anti-trust suit against the US-FTC. This resulted in forced licensing of Xerox’s entire patent to its Japanese competitors. This led to the drop of share from 100% to 14%.
In 1982, under the leadership of David T. Kearns, company re-established through improved quality design and refreshed the product line. To expand its spectrum beyond copiers, in 1981, Xerox launched Memorywriter which gained 20% market share.
In the 1990s, due to the development of digital photocopiers and expanded product range, Xerox took restored its top position over its competitors. Xerox turned its products into a service, which included supplying, maintaining, and configuring the documents to companies.
In the words of Anne M. Mulcachy, “When I became CEO of Xerox 10 years ago, the company’s situation was dire debt was mounting, the stock sinking and bankers were calling. People urged me to declare bankruptcy, but I felt responsible for tens of thousands of employees.” So, Anne launched an effective and efficient plan that returned Xerox to an all profit company by the end of 2002. In 2000, Xerox acquired Tektronix which led to the Xerox Phaser line of products.
By February 2010, Xerox acquired Affiliated Computer Services, services and outsourcing, company. In May 2011, Xerox acquired NewField IT. In December 2013, Xerox sold Oregon IT outsourcing business to Atos as it had relatively slow growth of this business.
In 2016, Xerox announced it would cut out of its business services unit of Affiliated Computer Services into its own publicly traded company. This new business would be named Conduent which would be under Ashok Vemuri as CEO. All of this was effective from January 2017.
To advertise and expand in the Asian countries, Xerox collaborated with Fuji which holds 75% of share.
Now the photocopy word is changed to Xerox that is how much success Xerox has achieved within its customer. In fact, most of the people saying “Xerox” instead of photocopy don’t even know it’s the name of the company. Oxford Dictionary includes the use of “Xerox” as a verb. This kind of brand equity is although not encouraged by the company itself.
Xerox is still standing by its mission statement –
“Our strategic intent is to help people find better ways to do great work – by constantly leading in document technologies, products and services that improve our customers’ work processes and business results.”
It is, in fact, Xerox- “The document company”.