I am sorry to announce that my friend and business associate Tom Ashley passed away on Saturday 22nd August, 2015 after suffering a major stroke 3 days before. He never regained consciousness.
Tom was one of the pioneers of the digital printing industry, beginning his long career at IBM in 1967 to work on the R&D of copiers and printers. He managed groups developing photoreceptors, inks, and toners for IBM’s first copier, laser printer, ink jet printer and thermal transfer printer. The IBM 6640 ink jet printer of the 1970’s was a milestone in office printing, despite costing $23,000 with an output speed of 1 page per minute.
Following IBM Tom was Manager of Technology at Control Data Corporation heading up its laser and ink jet printer programmes.
From 1984 to 2001, Tom worked in market research and consulting for Dataquest, BIS Strategic Decisions, and CAP Ventures, all consulting firms specialising in digital printing and imaging. There, he directed groups researching the office peripherals, large format printing, industrial printing, and hard copy supplies markets.
In 2001 he moved back to his home state of Kentucky, and began working as an independent consultant. The following year he founded Pivotal Resources USA and has worked as an associate on many projects for clients worldwide. He was widely known as an industry expert, and had spoken at more than 100 industry conferences.
As well as his interest in digital printing, Tom was an enthusiastic radio ‘ham’. In fact in 1957 aged 16 he was featured in the press as having listened to the radio pulses from the first satellite in space, the Russian-launched Sputnik. His interest in science was no doubt founded in his father’s work on the Manhattan project in the 1940’s, where he was one of the first to work on uranium enrichment at Oak Ridge Laboratories.
As a person Tom had a perceptive and shrewd attitude to technology and never took anyone else’s views or forecasts at face value. He maintained a sharp and curious mind, and was working until the end leaving an unfinished document open on his computer.
Sadly, the digital printing industry has lost one of its founders.
13 April 1941 – 22 August 2015