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Xerox, currently sloganed as "The Document Company," is the world's largest
supplier of dry-paper photocopier machines and associated supplies.
Corporate headquarters are in Stamford, Connecticut, though the major
portion of the company is located in and around Rochester, New York, the
area in which the company was founded.
Originally named Haloid and beginning as a manufacturer of photographic
paper and equipment, the company came to prominence in the early 1960s with
the introduction of the first one-piece, dry-paper photocopier, the Xerox
914. The company expanded substantially throughout the 1960s, making
millionaires of some long-suffering investors who had nursed the company
through the slow research and development phase of the product. In many
ways, this time resembled the early years of microcomputer giants Apple
Computer and Microsoft. Proceeds from the introduction of this new industry
allowed the company to open a famous research center, the Xerox Palo Alto
Research Center or Xerox PARC.
Xerox shifted its business model in the 1970s and 1980s as patent expiry
removed exclusivity from their copier technology, and diversification plans
largely did not succeed. Many technologies developed largely by PARC were
ignored by Xerox and made their way into other companies' products—for
instance, Ethernet, the WIMP interface, and laser printers. Plans to enter
the computer market were destroyed by bad timing (for example, releasing an
8-bit CP/M based system, the Xerox 820, just as IBM readied its more
advanced PC). Similarly, Xerox developed a line of advanced typewriters just
as the typewriter began to lose out to computer-based word processing.
Meanwhile, the company's manufacturing costs were far in excess of those of
their Japanese photocopier competitors, its design and manufacturing quality
became questionable, and its internal culture had become problematic.
The company was revived in the 1980s and 1990s, through a massive
improvement in quality design and realignment of its product line.
Development of "digital photocopiers" in the 1990s and a revamp of the
entire product range—essentially high-end laser printers with attached
scanners—which were able to be attached to computer networks, again
gave Xerox a huge technical lead over its competitors. Xerox worked to turn
its product into a service, providing a complete "document service" to
companies including supply, maintenance, configuration, and user support.
However, the company struck trouble in an echo of its earlier difficulties
when its competitors caught up and it again lost its technical lead.
Recently, Xerox, like Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and other major
multinational companies, was revealed to have hidden billions of dollars in
past losses through creative accounting practices - though unlike those
companies it is still operating. (Needed: more detail discussion of
Xerox, though it is a global brand, has a slightly unusual corporate
structure in that it maintains a joint venture, Fuji Xerox, a 50-50
partnership with the Japanese photographic firm Fujifilm, to sell in the
Asia-Pacific region, and a similar operation, Rank Xerox, throughout Europe.