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Commentary & Analysis

We lost Derek Kyte and Lucien De Schamphelaere

A Rememberance by Frank Romano

By Frank Romano
Published: January 23, 2017

Derek Kyte was an engineer at Linotype in the 1960s. He joined Linotype-Paul when they acquired the Purdy and McIntosh phototypesetter, which became the Linotron 505. His signature device was the Linotron 202, a CRT phototypesetter that was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. When Linotype closed down the British operation, he and several engineers formed Chelgraph, which developed typesetting peripherals and scanners. I told him that one of his scanners looked like a Dalek from the Dr. Who series. 

Chelgraph was later absorbed into Crossfield Elecronics.

Derek Kyte was 90.

Lucien De Schamphelaere was an engineer at Agfa Corp. who designed and built their coating lines. He became interested in digital printing and developed their early laser printers, forming the company's Electronic Imaging System Department, which introduced the world's first LED-based, 400 dpi Postscript printer, the Agfa P400, at the start of the 1980s. But he took a few young engineers and created a skunk works to develop a laser printer for color. The result was Xeikon, the first roll-fed color printing system. It was introduced in September, 1993, the same day that Benny Landa introduced the Indigo color system. Xeikon printed on both sides of the web at virtually the same time. It is a testament to his vision that the Xeikon is still used and sold around the world.

The Xeikon was also sold by Xerox, IBM, and others, as well as through dealers, agents, and direct. 

He retired after Xeikon went public and established Triakon with his sons, a service bureau that used digital printing for unique customer requirements. As the quintessental engineer, he loved to solve complicated problems. He was so detail oriented that he would take notes if you visited him, even over dinner. It was my practice to visit with him and his sons after every Drupa as Eddy Hagen and I visited the companies in Belgium. RIT presented him with the Cary Award in 1995. 

On a side note, he drove one of those gaudy American cars all over Belgium. I think it was a Chrysler New Yorker. He gave me a ride once (and once was enough).

Lucien De Schamphelaere was 85.

I have been lucky to have known many of the people who invented the technology that built our industry. Machines build businesses and innovative visionaries build machines. Our industry is better because of Derek and Lucien and the legacy they left us.

Frank Romano has spent over 50 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia. Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Please offer your feedback to Frank. He can be reached at frank@whattheythink.com.

 

Discussion

By Eddy Hagen on Jan 24, 2017

I've met Lucien a few times, usually in the company of Frank. What surprised me the first time, at party where he was celebrated, is how interested he was in me as a person, in the organisation I worked for. Although he was at the center of the party. Although he had already achieved much more than I will in this life.
The other times was during drupa years, when I was Franks chauffeur when he visited Belgium. The last time was in 2012, Lucien his memory was already fading... While many others get frustrated and angry, he staid kind and gentle. He was a gentle man, a gentleman.
His name may not be the first choice when you think of the pioneer of digital color printing, but he was. I will remember him for that. And for being a gentleman.

 

By Dirk Van Thillo on Jan 26, 2017

I was privileged to be part of the initial team around Lucien that brought the first Xeikon digital press to the market. Lucien was a remarkable man: a visionary technologist that saw opportunities to change the world, and with the determination and drive to make it happen. The other side of him was a very human person of high ethical standards: the team he assembled was for him as important as the goals he was pursuing. Consequently he did not look to be in the spotlights himself, but rather he wanted that for the company and his team. Many colleagues who joined Xeikon in those early days as young people like me, were influenced by him, and still are! Thanks Lucien!

 

By Chris Lynn on Jan 27, 2017

Derek Kyte and I argued in 1991 about page description languages. I was responsible for putting together Crosfield's strategic plan and he, as head of Chelgraph, was the RIP & imagesetter guru. I tried to convince him that the world had already decided Postscript was the future, but he had a dozen reasons why his 'ACE' PDL and RIP were superior. ("You could write a chess program in Postscript - much too verbose!") He was technically right, but the market decided otherwise. We disagreed agreeably - Derek was a gentleman. RIP.

 

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