A photocopier is more commonly known by some people as a copy machine or simply a copier. It allows for the copies of documents or visual images to be copied cheaply and quickly. A technology called "xerography", which is a dry process that uses heat, is usually standard for office photocopiers, although some of these machines also include ink jet technology.
Photocopiers are used widely in a number of government, business, and educational institutions. The inventor of photocopying was Chester Carlson, a part-time researcher and inventor who was originally a patent attorney. Through the late 1930's and early 1940's Carlson's photocopying idea was turned down by many companies who did not believe there was a need for such an invention. It wasn't until the late 1940's that a company named Haloid partnered with Carlson to make a machine that would copy papers. The process was originally called "electrophotography", but Haloid thought the name was too long and after consulting with a classical language professor in Ohio changed the name of the process to xerography. They eventually came up with the name of "Xerox machines" for their products, which led to Haloid eventually changing their name to Xerox.
These machines started being sold in 1949 and eventually became so successful that people soon started using the term "xeroxing" as a way of describing photocopying. Photocopiers became the most popular form of copying prior to the 1970's, as it was a much cheaper alternative to Kodak's Verifax copiers. Photocopiers presented some advantages that other earlier copying technologies could not compete with. First of all, they were able to make copies using untreated plain office paper. Photocopiers were also able to make dual sided copies and eventually were able to sort and even staple the copies that were produced.
Color photocopiers eventually became available in the late 1950's when colored toner became available. Full color copiers became available in 1968 when 3M introduced the "Color-in-Color" copier. These color photocopiers did make counterfeiting money an easier task as well, eventually forcing countries to come up with new technologies to prevent this activity.
All new photocopiers now feature digital technology and have made analog technology obsolete. Today's photocopier now features more functions than could have ever been imagined when the first photocopier was manufactured. Scanners and built in fax machines are only two of the added features that present day photocopiers can provide, opening up a wider range of uses for this useful piece of machinery.