By Wook Kim
Updated August 20, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

It was the size of a big desk and weighed 648 pounds. It was manufactured by the tiny Haloid Company (which later became Xerox), based in Rochester, N.Y. Called the 914 Office Copier, it was the first modern photocopying machine, and its introduction in March 1960 did no less than change the world. The series of inventions and technological triumphs that led to what David Owen calls in Copies In Seconds ”the biggest communication breakthrough since Gutenberg” came from the singular vision and perseverance of one Chester Carlson. Both the tale (including the heartrending poverty of his youth) and Owen?s unfettered appreciation for his subject make for a fascinating read that, unlike the purpose of these machines, is not easily duplicated.