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xerography (electrophotography)

 

Xerography, also known as electrophotography, is a printing and photocopying technique that works on the basis of electrostatic charges. The xerography process is the dominant method of reproducing images and printing computer data and is used in photocopiers, laser printer s and fax machines. The term derives from the Greek words xeros , meaning dry and graphos , meaning writing.

Xerography was invented in the late 1930s by an American patent lawyer named Chester Carlson. At first, engineers considered the idea useless and several years passed before the potential of the invention was appreciated by industry. During those years, IBM, Kodak, General Electric and RCA were among the companies that turned Carlson away. The Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit organization, invested in Carlson's research and eventually signed a licensing agreement with a company called Haloid. Battelle and Haloid collaborated in research and demonstrated the technique in 1948. Haloid subsequently became Xerox.

The original xerography process allowed for reproducing or printing only grayscale images. Later, the capability to reproduce and print color images was developed. High-end grayscale and color laser printers can provide hard copy nearly as good as that produced by an offset printer. Xerography may eventually supplant traditional printing for the production of books and magazines.

This was last updated in March 2011

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