Redefining Visionaries As Heroes –Waldman

I love to watch the Biography channel on television when the lives of Edison or Einstein are featured, as opposed to the life of John Wayne. And you know what? How much do we really know about the inventors, pioneers and visionaries in our own industry like Otto Mergenthaler and, yes, even Gutenberg himself? Moreover, what do we know about the contributions of our contemporary industry visionaries like Efi Arazi, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke?

Almost 25 years ago Efi Arazi and his company, Scitex, ushered in a whole new world harnessing the power of the computer to manipulate and color correct images for print. More than a decade before Adobe Photoshop began its reign over image editing, Efi moved our industry into the digital age. I can vividly recall trade show crowds of the early ’80s staring in awe at Scitex terminals as the magic of the digital age unfolded before them.

My company was an early Scitex customer and that’s how I eventually met Efi. It all came about because I insisted that there was a problem with the system architecture. Unlike today’s inexpensive computers armed with a $700 copy of Adobe Photoshop, a Scitex terminal was about $500,000, in addition to all the other stuff that brought the cost of a total system into the millions of dollars.

My argument back then was that the terminal was cost-effective to do what we referred to as magic (image manipulation and cloning) because of the high premium you could charge customers for this unique service (at that time).

Efi Makes the Call

However, page assembly was another matter and most Scitex users, like my firm, still found it was more cost-effective to resort to conventional offset stripping. I thought that it would be a better idea to have a second, much cheaper, terminal dedicated to page assembly. One Saturday I got a call at home from a man with an Israeli accent trying to make himself understood above the noise of an airport in London. The man simply said, “Harry, this is Efi. We now have the Assembler.”

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