The father of computer typesetting, John W. Seybold, passes away
Press release from the issuing company
Haverford, PA, March 14, 2004. John W. Seybold, the spiritual "father" of the computer revolution that transformed publishing - and the father of two generations of technology pioneers died today of heart failure. He was 88.
For centuries, anyone wanting to communicate written words, drawings and photographs to a wide audience had to rely on skilled typesetters, engravers and other craft professionals using the industrial tools of the printing industry. Within a few decades, this has completely changed. First at his company, Rocappi, where the pioneering work was done, and later at the Seybold Report where he helped to shape and direct a broader revolution, John Seybold played the pivotal role in transforming an entire industry.
Rocappi (Research on Computer Applications in the Printing and Publishing Industries) was the world's first commercial computer typesetting "service bureau." Between 1963 and 1970, John and his team at Rocappi essentially invented and put into commercial practice most of the concepts now used to create, edit, format, and manipulate text information for print or electronic distribution.
After leaving Rocappi, John and his son Jonathan launched the Seybold Report. This quickly became the "Bible" for everyone engaged in the convergence of computers and publishing. Twice a month, the Seybold Report provided in-depth analysis and evaluation of new technology and technological trends -- as well as serving as a "community center" for a growing international community of publishing revolutionaries.
As innovator, entrepreneur, author, consultant, lecturer, mentor, and role model, John was the "guiding light" for the technologists and publishers who re-made the publishing industry in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. There is no aspect of publishing today -- whether it is print publishing or on-line publishing -- that is not fundamentally different because of what these pioneers accomplished.
His influence and example were so strong that all of his children have continued the family tradition and extended their father's heritage: Jonathan in computer publishing, desktop publishing, and digital convergence (the Seybold Seminars and Digital World conferences and trade shows), Andrew in mobile computing (Outlook 4Mobility), and Patricia in customer-impacting business and technology solutions (the Patricia Seybold Group, Customers.com). He is also survived by his wife, Trudie and by grandchildren Andrew Jr., Jesse, Nancy, and Karen. Two of his grandchildren are computing and Web professionals.
John was an active member of the Religious Society of Friends, a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the American Friends Service Committee, and served as a Labor Arbitrator for almost 30 years. He composed his first poetry before he entered kindergarten, and continued to write all of his life. He also learned to play the cello as a child and continued that, too, all of his life.
As a man of tremendous integrity, intellect, compassion, and creativity he brought out the best in all who knew him.
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