Museum of Printing Long-Time Board Member Louis Rosenblum Passes

Lou RosenblumLouis ‘Lou’ Rosenblum died peacefully at his home in Belmont, Massachusetts on September 22, 2016. He was born in New York City in 1921 to Isadore and Bessie Rosenblum. The middle of three children, he graduated from Yonkers High School and matriculated at MIT in 1938 where he majored in Applied Math. At MIT he had the good fortune to study under Professor Harold ‘Doc’ Edgerton on photography and strobe lights. ‘Doc’ worked at the intersection of engineering and art, and projects combining engineering and art became the motif of Lou’s career.

Lou graduated MIT in 1942 and joined Polaroid to work on war-related engineering projects. Later his Polaroid career included development of Edwin Land’s iconic invention of instant photography. In 1954, he moved to Photon where he worked on early photocomposition systems, the first of many leading-edge printing-related projects that occupied the next forty years. It was during this time he first became interested in the challenges of typesetting non-Latin-based languages such as Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Hindi.

In 1965 Lou founded Photographic Systems, a consulting firm that specialized in solving problems related to engineering, photography, and applied math. During the next 25 years, he worked on a wide range of projects. He developed a prototype page layout system for Life Magazine in the 1960s. He did extensive consulting for the Graphic Arts Research Foundation (GARF) where he oversaw development of the Chinese computer typesetting systems, Sinotype II in the late 1970’s, and Sinotype III in the early 1980’s. He designed custom digital fonts for Publish It!, the first desktop publishing software for the Apple II, and later completed fonts for Always, the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet publishing application. In the 1990’s he developed and licensed some of the first high quality Cyrillic PostScript fonts.

Farther afield from printing, he worked on custom lens designs for a variety of applications. However the most beautiful project arose from his work at Photon, where he had collaborated with Morton Bradley on the composition of The New Testament in Cadence Form. Bradley later created geometric sculptures for which Lou did the math and color calculations required for fabrication. The sculptures, created over a 25-year period, now reside in the permanent collection of the Indiana University Museum (http://www.iub.edu/~iuam/online_modules/bradley/slideshow_01.html).

Interspersed with his professional work was a series of civic and volunteer activities. He was active in BOPS, the Belmont Organization for the Public Schools, and ran for town meeting member in Belmont. He was an officer of the Society for Photographic Science and Engineering (SPSE), and later served on the Museum of Printing Board of Advisors.

Lou was an avid reader, traveler, skier, sailor, and amateur photographer. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Sandra Pletman Rosenblum, his children, Laurie Rosenblum and Bruce Rosenblum, and his grandson, Aaron Rosenblum, all of Belmont, Massachusetts.

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