Corporations: Copying in Black Ink

A pioneer in the office copying field, American Photocopy Equipment Co. was a Wall Street favorite back in the 1950s. Then it faded fast. Trouble was, while the Evanston, Ill., firm had scored its success with machines that turned out wet copies, other companies—notably Xerox—were building huge new markets with "dry" electrostatic copiers requiring no messy chemical developers. APECO tried to do the same, but its first electrostatic machines were plagued by costly production defects. From a 1961 high of $4,925,000, its profits went downhill, and in 1966 the firm finished with a deficit of $1,972,000.

Yet even as it...