Investing in copying

IBM stands for International Business Machines. Historically, what is one of the most indispensable business machines?

Photocopying.

Yet when a patent officer and physicist by the name of Chester Carlson approached IBM in 1930s with the first ever photocopying technology, the company wasn’t interested.

Carlson was rejected by many companies for years, until he finally signed an agreement with Haloid Company in 1946, which soon later evolved into Xerox.

Before photocopying emerged, people had to copy everything by hand. If multiple copies were needed they were using carbon copies. There was much need for reliable, automated copying.

So, how did a company like IBM miss this opportunity?

Perhaps the usefulness of this technology wasn’t really obvious at the time. In fact, physicist Otto Kernei dissolved his partnership with Carlson soon after they developed photocopying together. Like IBM, the co-inventor of photocopying also didn’t see much value in his own creation.

Carlson, on the other hand, had to believe in photocopying.
Mainly for health reasons!

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