Print pioneer John Crosfield passes away

Simon Nias
Monday, April 2, 2012

John Crosfield, founder of Crosfield Electronics and pioneer of automatic register control and colour scanning technologies for the print industry, has passed away aged 96.

Crosfield is understood to have died peacefully at home on 25 March after being hospitalised around a month ago following a heart attack from which he recovered sufficiently to be discharged.

As chief executive of Crosfield Electronics he spearheaded the development of the first automatic colour registration device for offset presses, Autotron, the first colour scanner, Scannatron, and the world's first enlarging and reducing drum scanner, the Magnascan 450.

He was honoured for his achievements at Ipex 2010, alongside Indigo founder Benny Landa and St Ives founder Lord Gavron, where he was hailed as the father of modern image reproduction.

Lars Janneryd, former deputy managing director of Crosfield Electronics and chairman of the John Crosfield Foundation, said: "John was able to listen to the needs of customers and end users and translate that into unique products which rationalised and developed colour printing globally.

"We take it for granted now that we can read a colour newspaper everyday but colour printing used to be a very expensive process until Crosfield Electronics developed the means to keep the register from one colour to the next on a rotary press."

Crosfield sold his company in 1974 to De La Rue, which was keen to acquire the banknote handling machines developed by spin-off company Crosfield Business Machines, and to understand the colour scanning technology that it feared could threaten the integrity of printed bank notes.

The company was later held as a joint venture by DuPont and Fujifilm from 1989 before becoming a subsidiary of Fujifilm in the 1990s, when it was renamed FFEI (Fujifilm Electronic Imaging). In 2006, the company was taken private again via an MBO led by managing director Andy Cook.

Cook said: "John joined our Queens Award celebration day last September where we gave him a tour of the company and demonstrated our latest product ranges. It was a real privilege to have had that opportunity and see his enthusiastic response to the legacy he had created.

"Although I only really got to know John in his latter years, he was one of those rare people who actually changed an industry for the better and in doing so touched thousands of peoples lives.

"Although he was a very modest man, his name became synonymous with innovation excellence and the brand Crosfield remains ingrained in the market place today. With so many past Crosfield staff still working with us, John’s passing marked an end of an era; however, his legacy lives and I’m sure he will be remembered for many years to come."

Crosfield was the son of Bertram Crosfield, a one time managing director of The Star and New Chronicle newspapers, and grandson of George Cadbury, from whom he inherited the Quaker principles of diligence, assiduousness, integrity and enthusiasm.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to British Industry in 1971 and in 1973 received the Annual Gold Medal of the Institute of Printing.

The John Crosfield Foundation was set up by former senior employees of the company, including Janneryd and former managing director Jim Salmon, to assist underprivileged young people with bursaries in furthering their education in the Graphic Arts.

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