Rochester’s Tech History2018-12-04T15:48:21+00:00

Rochester, NY Technological  Innovations and Distinctions, 1825-Present

From its early days as a growing hub along the Erie Canal, Rochester, NY has consistently been a hotbed of global innovation. Future-focused risk-takers made their homes here from the 1800’s onward, building new technologies, spurring progressive social changes, and creating the foundation for today’s vibrant, diverse, fast-moving global economy. For instance, work at Xerox made modern computing and the internet as we know it today possible. Without Kodak’s development of digital photography, you may not have been able to share photos with friends on Instagram. And biological research underway right now at the University of Rochester is powering Google-backed efforts to increase your life expectancy.

As an organization committed to fostering Rochester’s status as a leading technology region now and into the future, Tech Rochester reminds you also to peek at the past to celebrate the myriad ways our community has influenced the world – from the very first automobile patent, to the Kodak camera, to copiers and contact lenses, to next-generation optical technology powering a mission to Mars. Along the way, Rochester innovators figured out how to transform plant cultivation, mass produce marshmallows, lead a movement to secure a woman’s right to vote, and build one of the most successful supermarket chains in the United States. With long-established Fortune 500 companies, an ever-growing technology startup community, a diverse supply chain ecosystem, and leading research universities, Rochester’s future looks brighter than ever.


The Haloid Company Founded

  • 1906: The Haloid Company, later to become Xerox Corporation, launches in 1906 in a loft above a shoe factory


Eastman Kodak founded its research lab

  • 1912: Eastman Kodak founded its research labs in Rochester, NY in 1912, which made it one of the US’s first industrial research laboratories.


University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics is founded

  • 1929: The University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics is founded, becoming the first optics education program in the nation. The Institute of Optics is an academic department within the University of Rochester and grants undergraduate, master’s and PhD degrees in optics. To date, the Institute has granted approximately 2,800 degrees in optics, approximately half of all degrees awarded in optics in the US.


Kodachrome film

1935: Kodachrome film patented and introduced, 1935, Eastman Kodak, Rochester,


First Xerographic Machine

  • 1959: First Xerographic Machine invented, “Xerox 914,” 1959, Chester Carlson and John H. Dessauer, Xerox Corporation, Rochester, NY


First Desktop Plain-Paper Copier

  • 1963: First Desktop Plain-Paper Copier, “Xerox 813,” invented, 1963, Chester Carlson, Xerox Corporation


NTID Founded

  • 1966: RIT was selected by the Federal government in 1966 to be the site of the newly founded National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). NTID admitted its first students in 1968, concurrent with RIT’s transition to its Henrietta campus.


First FDA-approved soft contact lenses

  • 1971: First FDA-approved soft contact lenses in the United States patented and introduced, 1971, Bausch + Lomb, Rochester, NY


First Color Copier

  • 1973: Invention of First Color Copier, 1973, Xerox Corporation, Rochester, NY


First Digital Camera

  • 1975: Invention of First Digital Camera, 1975, Steve Sasson, Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, NY

First Telecommunications Devices for Deaf

  • 1975: First Telecommunications Devices for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (TDDs or TTYs) and First Local Telephone Relay System for the Deaf developed, 1975, Paul Taylor, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY


First Computer Mouse

  • 1981: First Computer Mouse, “Xerox 8010 Star,” invented 1981, Xerox Corporation (Xerox PARC), Palo Alto, CA (Xerox Headquarters was in Rochester, NY at the time)


Invention of Organic Light Emitting Diode

  • 1987: Invention of Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) Technology, 1987, Ching W. Tang and Steven Van Slyke, Rochester, NY


Improved Breast Imaging

  • 2013: Invention of new system that gives a more precise view of breast tissue using cone-beam computed technology, 2013, Dr. Ruola Ning, University of Rochester. He launched a startup company, Koning Corp., to help take the technology through clinical trials and bring it to the market.


Enhanced Primary Wastewater Treatment Technology

  • 2014: Invention of new Enhanced Primary Wastewater Treatment Technology to convert wastewater into clean water and clean energy, 2014, Terry L. Wright, ClearCove Systems, Victor, NY

Add to our Tech History

We’d love to include more examples of technical advancements from Rochester, NY’s history. Please complete the form below to suggest a historical event to add t our list.

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