A typical business photocopier from Xerox

Photo courtesy Xerox

Walk into almost any business office, and you'll probably find a photocopier ("copier") with a line of people waiting to use it. For most businesses, small or large, the copier has become standard equipment, much like having a desk to work at and a chair to sit in.

What if you had to resort to making carbon copies of important documents, as many people did before copiers came along? Or worse, imagine how tedious it would be if you had to recopy everything by hand! Most of us don't think about what's going on inside a copier while we wait for copies to shoot neatly out into the paper tray, but it's pretty amazing to think that, in mere seconds, you can produce an exact replica of what's on a sheet of paper! In this article, we will explore what happens after you press "Start" on a photocopier.