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The end of an era
Louis Moyroud just died. Doesn’t ring a bell? He and Rene Higonet invented photographic typesetting. Oh, phototypesetting does not ring a bell either? From the 1950s to the 1990s, we set type using photographic techniques, exposing miles of photo-sensitive paper and film. The printing industry moved to CTP in the 1990s and digital printing in the 2000s, but the era of pre-press automation began with Louis and Rene. Rene died in 1983. Louis died on June 30 at the age of 95.
It was a privilege to call Louis my friend. I first met him in 1969 when I began as advertising manager for Photon, the company that brought his products to market. He was a prolific inventor and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
He and Higonet began their experiments in France just after WW II. In 1946 Higonet came to the US and looked up Vannever Bush, president of MIT and President Roosevelt’s advisor on technology. Bush put Higonet in contact with Bill Garth, who had a company in Cambridge, MA called Lithomat. They made paper masters for offset duplicator presses.
Garth formed a foundation to support the development of photographic typesetting. The first machine, Petunia, set the first book photographically “The Wonderful World of Insects” in 1949. But the foundation wanted a bigger machine that could do more — because the Foundation’s members were big newspapers, book printers, and typesetting services. After a few more years the Model 200B came out and it started a revolution in printing pre-press.
Garth was forced out and started Compugraphic Corp. with Ellis Hansen to produce the small machine he really wanted. I later followed Bill and became the first Marketing Communications Manager at CG. But I kept in touch with Louis who went on to develop a line of phototypesetters — the 570s, 713s, Zips, and Pacesetters.
He worked from his lab in Florida with Grant Morgan and Higonet’s nephew Trevor. When Photon was absorbed into Dymo in 1971, Louis retired.
He had a wonderful sense of humor and an unassuming demeanor. He had collected most of the early phototypesetters and donated them to the Museum of Printing in North Andover. Petunia is on display.
John Crosfield, Rudolf Hell, Benny Landa, and Dan Gelbart are among the inventors who moved the printing industry to new levels, but the era of automation began with Louis and Rene.
Louis is now gone and revolution he began is now ended. But other revolutions continue.
[New York Times obituary here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/business/media/02moyroud.html?_r=4&ref=obituaries]