Kreonite, Inc.

Kreonite - Project Engineer.
Wichita, KS. April/1982-July/1982.
At Kreonite I did engineering for a HELL color scanner interface to Kreonite equipment and studies for other kinds optical scanners and color graphic workstations to process photographs scanned after being fixed to a large rotating drum. The work involved digital logic design and reading the elaborate manuals devised by Dr. Rudolph Hell and his staff describing the fine points of scanner technology, color theory, gradation control in 4-color printing, and other theoretical details. I note that Dr. Rudolph Diesel obtained a patent on the Diesel engine in 1893, a hit which may have something to do with Dr. Rudolph Hell's name, and certainly established Diesel (an engineer) as a piston of big business.

Dwight meant to develop flat-bed color scanners of his own design in addition to color photo retouching terminals, but he grew intelligence in the Kreonite staff by acquainting us with the biggest, most sophisticated color scanner in the world, which came with elaborate documentation.

I also spent a fair amount of time looking into light sensors of various types that might be used in the design of color scanners.

After leaving Kreonite I developed super color graphic systems card designs for holding huge color images that could be rapidly scrolled and panned for editing purposes, while I waited for my engineering search firm to find me another job. Happily, they found me a wonderful position at Alphatype/Berthold as a Group Leader for Systems Architecture in scenic Tampa, Florida. I lived in an apartment by the bay at The Breakers in Clearwater, and commuted every day to AlphaType in Tampa over a long causeway across waters on both sides. I met my 2nd wife Jo at The Flamingo disco in Clearwater before we got married and pulled into a luxury 2-story home in Palm Harbor, Florida with her and her two children by a previous marriage.

History of Microprocessors | ICs | IEEE Standards
A Brief History of Film || Dr. Rudolf Hell of Hell Scanners
Some Kreonite Equipment | Kreonite Processor | Rebuilt Kreonite Equipment
A Kreonite Film Processor | Kreonite 20" | Kreolab from Kreonite | Wide Print
A 30" Kreonite Color Paper Processor
Science and Technology Timelines

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Kreonite, Mycro-Tek, and WSU Memories
Dwight D. Krehbeil owned 51% of the stock in Mycro-Tek,Inc., where I had been working for years as a project engineer, programmer, and design engineer. He had acquired a large Hell Scanner from Dr. Rudolf Hell's outfit in Germany, and had become interested in designing a different kind of optical scanner, a flat-bed scanner, to be sold from Kreonite, a firm he had founded years before to make photo lab equipment. Dwight initially worked at Boeing, leading a team of men there, but was dismissed for some reason. He was proud that he had a new firm with a new team leadership responsibility ready to go very shortly after leaving Boeing. I believe the first product of Kreonite was a tray for developing light-sensitive photo papers based on silver compound films. Eventually, Dwight developed microprocessor-controlled photo labs that processed film from cameras and made prints.

Dwight acquired Mycro-Tek, Inc., led by Stan Brannan (BSEE WSU), Larry Runyan (MSEE WSU), and Steve Markel (BSEE WSU), all three of whom had degrees in electrical and computer engineering from WSU. Brannan and Runyan knew each other from their days as Boeing employees.

Stan Brannan had responsibility for microprocessor development at Boeing, but left to tour with a consulting firm after being offered a superior salary in exchange for delivering lectures on microprocessor technique to companies of engineers in the USA and in Europe. Today we speak of microcomputers and microcontrollers more than we do of microprocessors for many of these applications. Stan Brannan of Mycro-Tek had been a high school class president, and was a wonderful presenter, talker, and bargainer. Dr. Roy Norris (my professor for Integrated Electronics and Pulse Electronics), told the tale to our class with a sense of shock. "Brannon had carte blanche to investigate microprocessors for Boeing", he said with a look of amazement on his face. "Then he took off to lecture elsewhere about it", he concluded with an air of disappointed astonishment. Stanley himself said that another company of men offered him far more money to go globe-trotting all over Europe and the world with an exciting mission of illuminating engineers with the powerful radiance of his microprocessor expertise, so that it was just too much to resist. It was more money, more society, more prospects, and more adventure, so Stan decided to make the most of it. I have wondered if he was not behind the Sybex manual on microprocessor applications that I read soon after I joined Mycro-Tek. Stan was sure we would need to read, and generously allocated company time to us to inform ourselves from documents about the details of our mission. It was a wise course compared to some I've seen, where nearly all reading must done under cover of darkness off site. This could cause the research and development branch of an operation to split to a distant site, which is what happened at Alphatype/Berthold where I was in the R&D sector. One has to read, write, and compute plenty to plan and prepare documents and fabricate pilot prototypes based on careful thinking. Production often just wants to see primitive action.

Larry Runyan was an "A" student in electronic engineering who got an MSEE before going to Boeing: he was remembered at WSU for being the first one to finish up tests, and became very skilled as a design engineer. He was famous for always walking out of tests first of all and still making an "A" in every course. Runyan designs were carefully formulated and quickly debugged, so that he made lesser lights feel secure in him.

Steve Markel was a gifted programmer who contributed a vast amount of valuable software, which he at first produced in 8080 assembler language using an assembler cooked up on site by Larry, I seem to recall, who thought it was an interesting break from hardware design to develop an assembler. All Mycro-Tek development system software ran on equipment of our own design at first, before we graduated to Intel development systems. Years later we used Microsoft MASM assemblers in Windows operating system environments or compilers for C or C++. By now we are often using Windows 7, Windows XP or perhaps UNIX-derived Linux or its derivatives. Steve wrote a subscription management package for newspapers and other newspaper software [Images] and gradually became a top manager who assigned most such tasks to other hands. Finally he left for Santa Barbara, California, but later returned.

I was hired at Mycro-Tek sometime after Dwight D. Kreihbiel bought 51% interest in it to give the boys a hand and lasso some microprocessor and electronic design technology to support products sold by Kreonite. I recieved my MSEE in 1977 from WSU after working to interface a Mycro-Tek data collection system to our EE Department HP 9000 minicomputer for our WSU wind energy experiment, so that I was familiar with Mycro-Tek as a "HAL 9000". I wrote software to analyze data on the HP 9000 taken from the Mycro-Tek data collection system and output computer graphics.

One day in 1975 I noticed there was no wind at all and the WSU wind turbine propeller was spinning quite rapidly. At first I thought it must be wonderfully efficient at extracting energy from the nearly still air. Then it occurred to me what it was. The malfunctioning thing was taking power from the line! A few weeks later Mr.Dunn, who had designed the wind power generator system as the Chairman of the Department, committed suicide and was replaced by Dr. Ford, who taught my class in Microwaves, Lines, and Antennas [Books]. Dr. Everitt Johnson was also chairman of the WSU EE department for a while, and taught a course I took in microprogramming and microprogrammed computer architectures. Our HP 9000 minicomputer was microprogrammable, featuring microprogrammable control storage, and we had used this capacity to install a microprogrammed Fast Fourier Transform in it that I could use for my image processing research based on ingenious efforts of Dr. Fred Dickey, Dr. Sam Shanmugam, and myself into the properties of prolate spheroidal wave functions applied to optimal edge detection. I developed eigenvalue problem solutions for obtaining matrix representations of discrete prolate filters.

After graduation, I flew around the country to Bell Labs in Chicago, Shell Oil in Houston, Hewlett-Packard in San Francisco Bay, and I was also interviewed by Boeing in Wichita, where Dr. Fred Dickey, my professor in laser technology [Books], was heading up the Boeing the electro-optics group.

"If you want to put laser cannon on a jet plane, you've got to do business with an outfit like Boeing," Dr. Dicke said one day. "They know where the bolts go."

To the left is a image of Boeing’s YAL-1 Airborne Laser (ABL) weapons system [Images, Video] that Dr. Dicke was talking about. The Boeing YAL-1 [Links, Images, Video, Papers, Books] uses a chemical oxygen iodine laser [Wikipedia, Links, Images, Video, Papers, Books]. The Boeing YAL-1 is a Boeing 747-400F Jumbo Jet featuring a future weapons airborne laser missle intercept unit that consists of a high energy laser, a flight turret assembly, tracker illuminator lasers, and a beacon illuminator. The weapon system uses infrared sensors to detect missiles, three low power tracking lasers calculate speed of the missile, and finally the main laser fires for 3-5 seconds from a front-mounted turret to destroy the missile.

I decided that microprocessor technology was potentially the most profitable thing to be working in, and went to Mycro-Tek. After about 4 years, I finished up a system for commercial typography at Mycro-Tek and also the AdComp Display Ad MakeUp Terminal, an interactive graphics system. After I acquired a valuable patent on the AdComp character generation technique, the firm was sold to Allied Chemical for ten million dollars. I got a generous bonus from Mycro-Tek stockholders Dwight, Stan, and Larry; and a dollar and a poot from the Allied Chemical lawyer (together with chocolates for my wife) who had me sign the patent applications. I had neglected to huddle with my colleagues on board before signing documents for the lawyer, which might have cost me a bundle.

The transition was carefully planned, but the top leadership of Mycro-Tek decided to start a new firm elsewhere, and call it Brite Voice Systems.

After working at Mycro-Tek, I was hired by Dwight Krehbeil to come over to Kreonite and work on a new generation of interactive graphics systems for processing color photos, color photo scanners, and so on. I started in on a Hell Scanner interface and worked up some proposals for flat-bed scanners and interactive color graphics workstations, studying the excellent manuals from Dr.Rudolf Hell on the theory of processing color photos, with a fine presentation of the theory of gradation and 4-color printing. Before getting too far into these projects, however, Dwight passed away while on vacation in Hawaii.

I felt that my IQ went up 10 points as I paced the bricks outside of Kreonite. Things could come to an end this way, by God. I was dismissed after Dwight's death and began looking for another job. During this period I developed schematics for interactive graphics workstations with advanced architecture, and was delighted to find a job in Tampa, Florida at AlphaType/Berthold, which had a sort of Gilligan's Island flavor to it, and was swept off into the South Seas atmosphere of Tampa Bay in 1983. Dr. Peter Krumhaur was pleased with my course of research, and was into exciting projects challenging to my mathematical capacities in Tampa as Group Leader for Systems Architecture. I found my new wife Jo that year, and acquired two stepchildren, Joseph and Christina, who I enjoyed showing around the Epcot Center outside of Disney World near Orlando. Jo and I also took the kids to the Kennedy Space Center. My father passed away back in Wichita of a stroke in 1983 shortly after we got married at the Chapel by the Sea. I remember walking down the sandy beaches in the sunshine thinking about that one. At AlphaType/Berthold I was working on spline character generation technique and on improvements in a graphics engine, which was being repackaged for a new series of phototypesetters.

Dwight D. Krehbeil was an interesting man to work for. As a programmer at Mycro-Tek, I was getting a bit too immersed in my programming and spending too much time on board at night, when Dwight liked to come around and look things over and see what was going on inside his empire. He was sure Mycro-Tek ought to develop phototypesetters and not merely multi-terminal distributed intelligence front-end systems for them, but Stan (BSEE), Larry (MSEE), and Steve (BSEE) thought that this was not the right move. I liked to talk over these possibilities with Dwight at night, and I guess this lead to his invitation to me to join Kreonite after 4 years of working on Mycro-Tek products.

At Kreonite Dwight had a large office to himself full of memorabilia from his travels around the world, including a brass gong he could expertly rub around on the inside rim with a special drumstick-like instrument featuring a felt ball tip to produce a deep rumbling ring, like something out of a Japanese temple ceremony, or the vibrations that entertain men's angels. "You never know who will be your friend", Dwight said of business exchanges. Development meetings to talk over new products were reminiscent of a round table chaired by an elderly Indiana Jones and master entrepeneur surrounded by sculpture, oriental gongs, blackboards, and memorabilia, and were entertaining and interesting sessions in which Dwight could display his considerable acumen in deciding what to do while being advised by a circle of chosen men. He "held court" to evaluate ideas for new products and made many wise and profitable decisions in his career. Dwight passed away on vacation in the tropics, I was told. Once in a great while he liked to fly away to Las Vegas. Although he seemed to be an old fellow near 70, his death was surprising.

I felt considerably smartened up by the Instant Karma transition of it, as I was soon looking for work in a car I inherted from my mother. I thought my IQ must have gone up 10 points after my feet hit the bricks. Once before I felt a similar shock when my rich uncle Charles Mayfield [fam5], a petroleum geologist and dynamite geophysics mapper, died at 49 after being kicked in the head by one of the show horses he collected and kept at his ranch. A deep black cloak of grief seemed to envelop me from my autonomic nervous system out, as it felt its prospects of survival and prosperity were taking a decisive turn for the worse. The blackness enveloped all of us at Grandma Mayfield's house at the same time, perhaps, just after she announced his death to the family. "You grieve for yourself," she observed with a worried look.

Kreonite ceased production in 2004.
-James A. Green, March/2003; upgraded April 21, 2013.

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