There are plenty of machines in each office nowadays – laptops, desk computers, lamps, printers, faxes, tablets, photocopiers, smart phones. All of these are suited for our needs and easy to work with, but the technology behind them is sometimes unknown. This naming article is about one of the most common office machine brands –Xerox.

xerox international company name origin

The company is famous for their products in the area of office technology – printing presses, photocopiers, multifunctional systems and related services and supplies. But for the readers of some countries the word xerox is just a synonym for a copy machine (just as pampers became a synonym for changeable diapers). But what does the brand name actually mean?

It is well-known that letters like x, y, j and others add a certain tone to a word that make is memorable and leaves a trace in our mind long after being heard. Obviously, Xerox have done a pretty good job securing two of the five letters in their brand name to be memorable when pronounced. However, the name is not just a random combination of letters, but derives from a complex Greek word which is connected to the company’s main field of expertise.

When The Haloid Photographic Company was founded in 1906, no one expected the company to grow as one of the biggest international document management corporations. Electrophotography as a technology was invented by Chester Carlson and later developed by The Haloid company. Together they introduced a new technology, called xerography – meaning ‘dry writing’ from Greek [ξηρός (xeros) – “dry” and γραφία (graphia) – “writing”]. This served to emphasize the difference between this new reproducing technique and the old one, cyanotype, which used liquid chemicals.

The success of the first dry plain paper photocopier (Xerox 914) was so huge that the company changes its name to Haloid Xerox in 1958. The name was chosen based on the unique dry printing technique, and shortened to follow the model set by the other big company at the time – Kodak. Three years later, another renaming occurred and the company was called simply Xerox. Experimenting with new automated copy machines and smaller sizes, fitting on a desk, Xerox grew to be one of the most famous brands in this business. So successful, that the company name became a noun for the general technology and the machines using it.

xerox logo evolution

You can read more about the history of photocopying here.