I can't believe I've neglected to rave about the book Copies in Seconds, by David Owen. I came across this book on Amazon a few years back, in my search for a good non-fiction read. (And for some reason, I like reading about inventors and companies.) This one talks about the struggle of Chester Carlson to get anyone to pay attention to his wonderful invention, which we all know as xerography. Photocopies. This is a fascinating book and it reads like fiction. (Meaning, it is a very easy read, and maybe even a good beach read for you this summer!)
I was reminded of this book because I came across this article from the Contra Costa Times, which is also about Chester Carlson. In part:
The first year of the Great Depression was a lousy time for finding jobs - even for a Caltech graduate. He went to New York where he accepted relatively menial office jobs at which he often was called upon to copy information, either by hand or using a highly inefficient photographic process.
From these tedious exercises grew the idea that an image could be transferred electrically to paper via a charged powder, or toner.
He patented his process called xerography - "dry printing" - in 1937 and offered the concept to IBM in 1940. Nobody seemed much interested.
I added the Amazon link so you can see the cover of the book, but I have no idea why this book is so expensive. You can probably find a copy on eBay for cheap, or through one of the used sellers on Amazon. If you have any good inventor book suggestions for me, please let me know in the comments!