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May 25, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

The Delphax Systems UK Ltd subsidiary of Toronto’s Delphax Systems Inc has launched a print architecture that it claims can send any data stream, in any format, to any printer. The Vendor Independent System Architecture, or VISTA, is designed to enable organisations with a variety of hardware and data streams to print, view, index, archive and retrieve data, independent of its original source. A victory for the forces of good and open over the evil and proprietary system? Steve Chesney, a Delphax technical support consultant, says the software is crucial for Delphax’s attempt to challenge its rivals in the printer market with its range of high speed, electron beam imaging, ImageFast printers. Delphax, set up in 1980 and with turnover of $60m in 1993, is owned equally by Avery-Dennison, Xerox Corp, and Olympus Corp. For the first 10 years of its existence, it was primarily an OEM customer for Xerox, but it is now in direct competition with its backer. Xerox’s role is purely as an investor and Delphax, having seen rapid growth in the late 1980s, including the purchase of Bull Printing Systems, is hoping to cut its remaining ties and go public within the next three years. However such progress in the mainframe printing market was, until now, blocked by the domination of Xerox’s proprietary protocol and IBM Corp’s Advanced Function Printing. IBM demands massive software licence fees, through the company’s Print Service Facility, for running non-IBM applications Delphax printers, for example. The software, which operates under OS/2 at present and Unix in the future, requires an 80486 processor and 16Mb of memory. It aims to be a virtual printer, theoretically capable of sending any data stream, from desk-top, client-server or mainframe, in any form to any printer or any viewing format. It transforms print files into an independent normalised format of 14,400 dots per inch, a multiple common to all formats, that is then suitably scaled down for channel or network attached printers, or various viewing and storage devices. At present, it will accept Advanced Function Printing Data Sets and Xerox conditioned data streams, while PostScript and Printer Control Language capability will follow later this year. Total cost for the resource manager that compiles and recompiles the data stream, and the Xerox and AFPDS inbound and the IPDS and Delphax outbound data streams is ?15,333.

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