Xerox Corporation, 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 accounting irregularities.)
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.