In 1990, I arrived on a steamy Saturday night, in Sydney, Australia, to begin a very exciting episode in my life. I was jet lagged and crashed out, in a fellow directors’ flat.
At 5.00am the next morning, he crudely shook me into life and we drove to the largest industrial unit I had ever seen, in Hornsby, a northern outpost of Sydney.
The place was cavernous and completely empty. Literally, an hour later, 5 Aboriginal carpenters arrived and we started to build a series of dark rooms, to fit some 10″ x 8″ enlargers, C41 dip and dunk machines, rail cameras, paper processors and a plethora of antiquated large format conventional finishing machines.
We built the largest Photolab in Sydney, in less than 10 weeks. By the end of the 11th week, we had clients ordering large format graphics and displays.
The business has been bought and sold a few times, The Photolab no longer exists and conventional photographic processing has been swept away by digital technology.
Four years later, I was recruited by an American entrant into the UK market, to sell digital graphics. The company was located on the 2nd floor of an office in Scrutton Street in Central London. The company built its market around this machine, an Electrostatic 4400 Cad Plotter. It was housed in an air-conditioned room, the size of my dining table.
The quality was adequate and that was being kind but it produced more graphic panels in a day, than my 10 technicians did in Sydney. This machine revolutionised large format graphic production and made the industry, what it is today. I wished I had found it four years earlier, before investing over 500,000 Australian dollars in conventional photographic technology.
My name is Steve Howard. You have been reading the digital circus.