James G. Balmer
In 1954, the Sweepmaster, designed by James G. Balmer, Jr., IDSA and Frederick W. Hertzler; and engineered by Carl B. Denny, all of Harley Earl Associates, Inc., was introduced by the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company. The Sweepmaster won a design award in 1955 from the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI), which was the only US design organization presenting national design awards between 1951 and 1965. The Bissell sweeper was invented in 1876 by Anna and Melville Bissell in Grand Rapids, MI. Thirty years later, in 1906, over 3000 per day were being produced, and Bissell announced that its sweepers were "the only brand advertised nationally to consumers". This was two years before Hoover introduced its first vacuum cleaner. A more recent Bissell design, the Trio Vac, a lightweight stick vac designed by INNO design, Inc. and Bissell Industrial Design, was introduced by Bissell in 1992. Harley J. Earl (1893-1969) automotive designer, was born in Hollywood, where his coach-maker father in 1908 founded the Earl Automobile Works, and from 1911, built custom car bodies for film stars. Don Lee, a West Coast Cadillac distributor, bought the company (including Harley) in 1919. Earl's talents were soon recognized by Larry Fisher, Cadillac Division president, and Earl was sent to Detroit in 1925 where he established GM's Art and Color Department in 1927. He became VP in 1940, and dominated GM design policies until his retirement in 1958, naming William Mitchell as his successor. In 1945 he established his own firm, Harley Earl. Inc., which in 1964 merged with Walter B. Ford Design Associates, Inc. to form Ford & Earl Design Associates. James Gilmore Balmer, Jr., IDSA (b. 1922) is a US industrial designer born in Pennsylvania and graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1943. He worked from 1946 to 1959 for Harley Earl Associates, Inc., serving in a variety of positions, and ending as executive vice-president.
The first automatic office copier to make copies on plain paper, the 914, is introduced by Haloid Xerox. A floor-mounted device, it was designed by James G. Balmer of Armstrong-Balmer & Associates, in collaboration with Don Shepardson, John Rutkus and Hal Bogdenoff of Xerox, who had developed an engineering prototype. Balmer had recently left Harley Earl, Inc., where he had been director since 1945, to establish Armstrong-Balmer & Associates in 1958. At Earl, Balmer had been involved in the Secretary copy machine designed for Thermofax and introduced by 3M in 1958, and Haloid Xerox had been impressed with the design, engaging Balmer to consult on the final design of the 914. Xerography, a process of producing images using electricity, was invented in 1938 by physicist-lawyer Chester Floyd "Chet" Carlson (1906-1968), and an engineering friend, Otto Kornei. Carlson entered into a research agreement with the Batelle Memorial Institute in 1944, when he and Kornei produced the first operable copy machine. He sold his rights in 1947 to the Haloid Company, a wet-chemical photocopy machine manufacturer, founded in 1906 in Rochester, NY. The first commercial xerographic copier, the Xerox Model A, was introduced in 1949 by Haloid, which had the previous year announced the refined development of xerography in collaboration with Battelle Development Corporation, of Columbus, OH. Manually operated, it was also known as the Ox Box. An improved version, Camera #1, was introduced in 1950. Haloid had been re-named Haloid Xerox in 1958, and, after the instant success of the 914, when the name Xerox soon became synonymous with "copy", would become the Xerox Corporation. In 1963, Xerox introduced the first desktop copier to make copies on plain paper, the 813. It also was designed by Jim Balmer of Armstrong-Balmer & Associates, and won a 1964 Certificate of Design Merit from the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI).