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Memorial Tributes: Volume 7
JOHN H. DESSAUER
BY ROBERT J. SPINRAD
JOHN H. DESSAUER, retired officer and director of the Xerox Corporation and the man who brought to a small company the invention that later became xerography, died on August 12, 1993, in Rochester, New York. He was eighty-eight years old.
Dessauer was born in Aschaffenburg, Germany, on May 13, 1905. He earned his B.S. degree in 1926 from the Munich Technical Institute and his M.S. and D. Eng. degrees from the Aachen Technical Institute in 1927 and 1929, respectively. Dr. Dessauer emigrated to the United States in 1929 and went to work for the Agfa-Ansco Corporation in Binghamton, New York. In 1935 he moved to Rochester, New York, to work for the Rectigraph Company, which was later acquired by the Haloid Company. (Haloid changed its name to Haloid Xerox in 1958 and later, in 1961, to Xerox.)
Dr. Dessauer became the head of research at Haloid in 1938. In 1946, as part of an investigation into new technologies, he came across a description of Chester Carlson's electrophoto-graphic process in the April 1945 issue of Kodak's Monthly Abstract Bulletin. From this brief twenty-five line abstract, Dessauer immediately sensed the potential for document copying. He described his excitement in his book, My Years with Xerox: The Billions Nobody Wanted: "By the time I had finished the abstract I was so excited by its possibilities that I immediately sent it to [Haloid President] Joe Wilson's office."