From the day he was born, Chet Carlson was destined to run a long obstacle course --
His folks were poor. Terribly poor.
His father was an itinerant barber who had come to America from Sweden, settled in Seattle, Washington.
Then Dad was striken with crippling arthritis; so much for barbering.
Then both Mom and Dad contracted tuberculosis, were forced to sell the few things they owned to travel to the southwestern desert. There, virtually penniless, they settled a small farm, did their best to get by.
Chet was only a youngster then, attending a little country school in the valley, getting on his broken down bicycle every day at three to ride into San Bernardino.
There were odd jobs in town. Lots of them. Chet tackled them all. The money he made was practically the only income his family had.
Then, when Chet was 17, his mother died. The loss was devastating, but there was little time to grieve. Now, between work and school, there was the added responsibility of nursing his crippled father.
For Chet, the hours of sleep were fewer -- yet, in spite of his full time hardships, the boy made a courageous decision: He would work his way through college.
Now why in the world would anyone who had gone through so much personal tribulation wrap up all his hopes and dreams in a little black box nobody wanted?
The answer to that question is "The Rest of the Story...."
In the waning years of the depression, Chet Carlson was working in the patents department of a New York company.
So many patent forms representing as many brainstorms from which everyone seemed to be getting rich! Everyone that is, except Chet Carlson.
So, motivated by that same unscratchable itch, Chet set up a laboratory in his kitchen, emerged, in time, after countless misfired experiments, with a little black box.
This was the wave of the future! Chet was sure of it. Now he only had to dangle his invention before the powers of world-wide progress and sell out to the highest bidder.
But who would be the fortunate first to learn of Chet's earth- shattering discovery? None other than Radio Corporation of America -- the one and only RCA. Chet sent them a carefully composed description of his invention; in a month or so, a reply by mail. Their judgment: NO commercial future for Mr. Carlson's little black box. The letter was polite. Unnervingly so.
All right, so RCA was short-sighted. Chet would show them! He'd take his invention to IBM; then, RCA would be sorry! But IBM perused Chet's plans, and they too, answered no.
As did Remington Rand. As did General Electric. And so on, and so on.
And as rejection followed rejection, the pangs of Chet Carlson's obstable ridden boyhood came back to him -- until one day, when a deficit-prone company in Rochester, New York, which was on the verge of bankruptcy, received the diagrams of Chet's little black box. The company had nothing to lose, so decided to take a chance.
Today -- that company is a multi-billion dollar corporation, built on a little black box that grew and grew.
For Chet Carlson's luck had changed. And his invention -- politely refused by RCA, and IBM, and Remington Rand, and General Electric -- you know today as the Xerox copying machine!