What's Next?

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Xerox Corporation Headquarters in Norwalk, Conn.

What’s Next for Xerox?

October 17, 2008
by Lindsey Chapman
Mention the word “photocopier,” and the name “Xerox” likely comes to mind. Xerox Corporation has supplied the business world with office products for decades. Since the time its first photocopier entered the market, the company has pursued innovation and endured financial struggles. What will Xerox’s past mean for its future?


The first xerographic image was created in 1938 with the help of the Haloid Company and the ingenuity of a patent attorney named Chester Carlson, who spent his spare time thinking up a better way to copy documents. It took him 10 years to find a business that was willing to turn his dream of an improved copy maker into reality. At the time, the Haloid Company, a photo paper producer in Rochester, N.Y., was looking to capitalize on the potential of a great invention.

The combined efforts of a willing company and an ambitious inventor transformed the Haloid Company into a much larger operation—Xerox Corporation. The company’s first photocopier, the 914, was introduced in 1959. As one of the most successful copiers ever, the Xerox 914 could produce 100,000 copies a month. In 1985, the Smithsonian acquired a Xerox 914, which weighed 648 pounds and stood at 42 inches high.

More Than Photocopiers

More than one noteworthy invention has come from a Xerox lab over the years, including a prototype for the PC, the Ethernet, fax machines, laser printing and more. Learn about other past and upcoming creations at the Xerox Web site.

Financial Trouble

In 2000 and 2001, rumors of financial trouble for Xerox Corporation surfaced as the company faced some very real financial struggles. Competition stifled copier sales, stock prices dropped and the company underwent a significant restructuring by selling non-core assets. In December 2000, Xerox announced that it had exhausted a $7 billion line of credit, but that $1.4 billion in cash remained.  

In January 2001, the New York Post ran a report that the company had hired the head of the Blackstone Group as a bankruptcy advisor. Xerox officials denied the rumor, stating that although they had received the services of Blackstone, it was as a financial advisor and nothing more.

The financial struggles continued until Xerox Corporation did what no one expected it to do; the company survived a brush with bankruptcy under the direction of a CEO who had no prior experience heading a company. Anne Mulcahy had served in multiple areas of the company’s business before becoming CEO. She told CNN that “although it wasn’t necessarily done with the intent of running the business, I found out that it was a pretty good set of skills and capabilities to have coming into the job.”

Creating a New Image

Xerox has tried to shed its copy machine image over recent years by introducing machines that both copy and print documents. In January 2008, the company made one of its biggest moves yet: doing away with its old “X” logo to adopt one that just says “xerox” and features an updated “x” to its side. Xerox didn’t make these changes lightly. Working with consulting group Interbrand, it interviewed approximately 5,000 people worldwide to learn what they associated the Xerox name with, and how those ideas could be conveyed in a new logo.
“Everything about the brand has got to reflect the modern Xerox,” Richard Wergan, vice president of advertising for Xerox, said in a New York Times article. “So the changes to the visual identity are just part of a comprehensive brand evolution that will take place over the course of the next one, two, three years and beyond.”

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