Tale of Design
By Larry O’Connor, CEO, Other World Computing
It’s always fun to meet someone who has been instrumental in turning the Mac into the digital design powerhouse it is today.
Of course, it’s even more fun discovering they have been one of our earliest upgrade and storage customers since we introduced our first modules back in 1988.
People like Rick Redfern were the reason we began building upgrades.
He and others pushed Macs beyond their factory installed limits and helped take them to the bleeding edge of creativity.
Rick purchased his first Mac – a 128Mac – in 1984 and two years later, had to move up to a Mac
Plus with the best storage upgrade he could get at the time, 4 - 1 MB SIMMs.
It wasn’t until he made his next major creative system purchase – a color desktop Mac with a $4,000 video card – that OWC could offer him memory upgrades he could install himself, saving a lot of production time and money.
Proof Prints – Rick was one of the first to produce large, high-resolution printing solutions which caught the eye of pitching legend Ted Williams. Ted hired Rick to design some of the collectable trading cards. One of the first press proofs was of Ted Williams, Juan Gonzalez, of the Texas Rangers and Satchel Paige, the first black player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Proofs like this are invaluable to baseball card collectors today.
Rick, who specialized in large (very large) film production/processing systems, kept pushing the envelope on what a Mac could do for the creative community.
Rick has always felt you can never have too much storage. At the time, that meant a Dual 44 MB Bernoulli and SCSI 2 500 MB drive.
Well before software was available to create magazine signatures, he and his partner, Rick Valasek, created 16-up pages for magazines.
Early Beta Work – In the early days of software development, signing a beta contract was serious business and strictly enforced. The Ricks (Redfern and Valasek) signed the contract and used Adobe Illustrator to produce an Adobe Annual Report. Unfortunately, at the time, Illustrator had no multi-page capabilities, no means to trap color points; and internet high-speed modems were almost 1MB/s which is a quick flight between the John Wayne and San Jose airports. These are things creatives don’t have to consider today.
Both accomplished photographers, they pushed the capabilities of the fledgling Adobe Illustrator to create prepress files and produce first editions that would be printed on a web press at the remarkable resolution of 300 lines.
Printers and the Adobe team didn’t think it was possible until they checked the resolution themselves. At a cost of $400 for each print, the Ricks let the “experts” evaluate the results.
Their work got the attention of Adobe management and they were contracted to help the Illustrator 88 team.
Thinning Down – Using a multi-million-dollar workstation costing $300 per hour, Rick used a beta copy of Adobe Photoshop to produce a proposed poster for Super Bowl XXVII featuring Garth Brooks and his Liberty Records release “The Chase,” Garth immediately saw Rick had miraculously shaved some weight from Garth’s waist and said he wanted the picture for his CD and record album covers. The file was sent to Nashville electronically but it took … hours.
To celebrate finishing the project, Rick bought a new Mac. Adobe turned right around and asked him to work on another product they would call Photoshop. His big challenge was that the only camera capable of creating images larger than 240x360 was one from Kodak that cost a dizzying $16,000.
But by maxing out his new Mac with as much OWC memory as possible, he was able to scan and produce the images he needed.
Through the years, the Ricks have developed a number of digital pre-press products and solutions that are now in daily use around the globe.
Now semi-retired, Rick Redfern is still involved in photography with his long-time partner, Lynette Kent. They travel the globe capturing images, storing RAW images on his 2012 Mac Air and backing them up on OWC’s Envoy Pro minis.
“We’re always make certain we have three or four copies of every image before we begin processing,” he said. “You never know where or when you are going to lose an image.”
While Rick Valasek is also semi-retired, the two Ricks can’t quite shake the idea of designing and developing new concepts and projects. This time, they’re leveraging good imagery and healthcare with a new solution they plan to introduce to physicians early next year.
Rick didn’t tell me much about the ultra-secret project other than it will require the best storage solutions available and he’s already working with our engineering and design team. I’m looking forward to learning more.