Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Print 80 Memories
What a crowd-- color scanning was the rage, Scitex introduced its Response CEPS system, offpress proofing was hitting its stride, and there was a silver crisis going on. Film prices had about doubled from the prior year. To think that 25 yrs later at Print05 there would be no prepress buzz (other than exposing plates via ctp to which the industry has become quite used to) is pretty amazing.
Back at Print80, companies were trying to demonstrate nonsilver films. Agfa's was bismuth based, and used uric acid for development. This led to all kinds of jokes in the booth about running out of chemistry, and then drinking a few beers to create enough liquid to replenish the tanks, if you know what i mean. I don't drink except for a glass of wine now and then, but we had a sales crew that would have happily assisted at a moment's notice.
It was also the show where I had to room with Agfa's wildest sales guy. There I was, young, innocent marketing assistant, thrown to the wolves at the "new" Hyatt Regency Downtown. He got up at 6, went for breakfast with customers, then headed to the show. At 6pm he would come back and change, muttering something about what a prude I was, and then exit carrying a glass of wine with him to the elevator. He'd return at 2am, turn on the TV (which had to stay on in order for him to sleep he claimed), and then call home; yes, his wife was up at 2am, too. At 6am he'd start all over again. He made fun of the books I brought with me about multivariate forecasting. Maybe that's what hurt most about rooming with him. :) He was quite a guy, carrying almost $2 million in volume in 1980. I always expected to read an obituary of him indicating that he died via spontaneous combustion while partying with customers. "I don't know what happened, officer, he just burst into flames."
It was also the show where our new department head took us all out to dinner at steakhouse Hy's of Canada. He proceeded to tell us what a great department we were and how well we worked together and he couldn't think of a better department in the company. He then started a process of dismantling the department person by person. Yes, it wasn't long after that show that I had my famous meeting with the personnel director, trying to get tuition reimbursement. That was the meeting where I was told "we don't need any MBA's around here." They didn't, I convinced myself, so I left a little more than two months after Print80. Well I really stepped in it then when I "ruined" my career by getting a doctorate seven years later. I remember the farewell luncheon where I ceremoniously crossed my name out of the Agfa company phone book; and I still have a co-worker's note where he wrote "leaving Agfa is like sex: once you do it, you wonder why you didn't do it sooner." He would stay until his retirement, it turned out, and really didn't want to work anywhere else. What's nice though is that over the years so many of my Agfa coworkers have stayed in touch; though it was just two years there, my experiences there shaped much of my career.
What a blur the early 80s were for me. It was funny that I was told they didn't need MBA's at one place and then I would work at Chemco Photoproducts (where I stayed until 1987) where they wanted someone with my exact background.
Strangely, I miss those rocky Agfa times. Life was easier then. We had film, phototypesetting paper, and a whole host of things are seem so archaic now, but required skill and craft to do what now takes just a few clicks of a mouse. And they say our industry is resistant to change. Bah!
For proof that I worked at Agfa, and had hair, go to http://www.sfminc.com/agfa/