Chester F. Carlson

Chester F. Carlson

1906 – 1968

Invented Xerographic Process

Enshrined:: 1991

Chester F. Carlson was born on February 8, 1906 in Seattle Washington. His parents had little to no formal education, but were highly regarded by their families. They were often thought of as the most intelligent of their siblings. When Carlson was young, both of his parents contracted serious illnesses. This led to Carlson spending his early years in poverty. Carlson acted as the main breadwinner of his family from a young age. He worked various odd jobs, but found joy in printing. 

In the midst of the Great Depression, Carlson struggled to find a job. After applying to over 82 companies, Carlson took a job at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York. After working there for a year, Carlson transferred from being a research engineer to working in the patent department. This job was one of the things that inspired him to come up with an improved printing technique. 

Another major inspiration for the creation of electrophotography came to Carlson while he was studying law. Carlson could not afford to purchase books, so he would spend days at the New York Public Library hand copying information. This led him to see the need for a cheap, effective copying device.

Carlson began working on developing the electrophotography by doing experiments in his kitchen. After many explosive experiments, Carlson’s wife convinced him to move his operations to a new location. There, Carlson tried, without success, to create an electric current using light. Gaining inspiration from a Selényi article, Carlson began to use light to remove static charge. After a breakthrough on October 22, 1938, the electrophotography was created. This was later renamed Xerography in an attempt to make the product more appealing and less confusing to the general public.

Chester Carlson. Wikipedia.