The First Xerographer

2 Chronicles 26:15
And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.

Xerography is the process used in most copying machines today. The page you want copied is exposed to the bright light in the machine. That light enables the machine to make an image of your original, using electrostatic charges to record the light and dark spots on your original. The toner – that fine black powder – is then drawn to those spots on the copier paper in exactly the same spots that were dark on your original. After the powder is fixed in place, your copy – perfect in every detail – pops out.

Portrait of Louis DaguerreMost of us consider xerography to be a modern work-saving wonder. However, xerography may not be such a modern invention. Researchers at Stanford Research Institute now believe that xerography was invented and first used almost 150 years ago!

That’s when Louis Daguerre introduced the photographic process named after him. The earliest photographs we have are daguerreotypes. These sharp, crisp pictures used silver and iodine vapor to fix an image on a plate. The process used the xerographic principle of setting up electrostatic charges on a plate wherever light struck it. It was the sharpness in the detail of the daguerreotypes that convinced researchers that Daguerre’s process was xerographic.

Unfortunately, his process was cumbersome and dangerous. Nor did Daguerre understand how the process worked. If he had, Abraham Lincoln might have had a copier in the White House!

That humans are ever inventive and creative arises from the fact that they are the creation of an unlimited and wonderful Creator.

I thank You, Lord, for the gift of inventiveness that You have given to man. I ask that we may always be guided to use our creativity and inventiveness to Your glory. Amen.

Bower, Bruce. 1985. Picturing an electric look. Science News, v. 127, Feb. 2, p. 74. Photo: Portrait of Louis Daguerre (1787-1851). (PD)