The company dates back to 1971, when John R. Stokes, current head of JJT's digital imaging group, and his wife lay the foundation for what would become JJT.
Business continued at a relatively slow pace until 1989, when Stokes' company
picked up three very significant customers: the Library of Medicine
, which asked Stokes
to convert its History of Medicine collection to videodisk; the National Geographic Society
, which wanted
"They wanted to digitize some 300,000 photographs from their collections using better technology," John R.
So, John R.
decided to go to the source: Udo and Reimar Lenz
, the Munich designers of the Kontron Eyelike.
"The Kontron digital camera had a unique method of scanning that gave users the ability to take a small chip in low resolution and create high-resolution images that went up to 3,000 pixels in the long dimension," Stokes says."The Lenz brothers' Marc project, which was undertaken by several museums in Europe, demonstrated that you could digitize digital museum paintings directly and go to print to produce a quality equivalent of what you could get if you used a film intermediate.
"When we heard this was being done, and knowing what the Library of Congress
expected us to do, I went to Germany and went to the designers directly to ask if they would design what we were looking for, which was something similar to the Marc [and would allow for 10,000 pixels in the long dimension]," Stokes adds.
Eventually, the brothers agreed to build three Marc II cameras for a total cost of $140,000 (not including the lens or bellows), Stokes
According to Stokes
, each scan done by the Marc II cameras takes into account individual focus, lighting and color.Once the image is captured, it is written to a file as a raw image.It also is scaled to 1K along the long dimension to produce an "evaluation" image, which also is written to file.
With the Marc IIs in hand, JJT
then sent in its response to the request for proposal (RFP) to the Library of Congress
, noting that they would need approximately six months to build the new cameras, software and tracking system to handle 300,000 images the Library wanted digitized.The Library accepted it.
"The government has two criteria for awarding contracts," John R.
In the end, JJT
created a production-based system that allows the company "to spread out the digitizing process like Henry Ford did in developing the Model T," John R.
"This gives us more efficiency than you could ever get by doing one image at a time," John R.
"We're not perfect, and we'll make mistakes, but we'll deliver as perfect a product as is possible in the end," John R.
says."I'm open and honest with clients, and that's why we have good relationships," he
For example, while in the last stages of a project for the New York Public Library
, John R.
says one of the pixels on their camera died."We did not catch it in our inspection process, but the client did, so we had to go back and spot out that dead pixel in every image.It was something we would never have seen in print, but the people we deal with will take their images, enlarge them by two or more to inspect them, and their quality control people caught it.
"We wanted to create a satisfactory project for the client and the client was patient with us," John R.
continues."If a client finds a problem with our work, we will correct it in every case."
Building on this reputation, and with newfound resources because of Dallas-based Piranha Inc.'s
recent purchase of the company, JJT hopes to expand its business."We don't have a large client basis - only about half a dozen significant institutional customers.We also were a small company with somewhat limited resources to expand," says John R.
, noting that there are only eight people to the digitizing staff, including the three in Washington, D.C., who work on the Library of Congress project.
"I think our new resources will allow us to use our technology and expand on our capabilities, not just for the institutional business, but for the commercial market as well," John R.
adds."The commercial market, in terms of the publication industry, is just at the threshold for using digital."He
notes that for the commercial market, digital cameras have got to compete with drum scanners.Nevertheless, JJT
is committed to reaching that level."We want to take our technology to the next level to create high-quality imaging for the commercial market," John R.
says, noting he
will continue to "live and breathe digital imaging."It's not a reality yet," he
says, "but it will be."
...JJT has focused on institutional clients because John R. Stokes, head of the company's imaging division, knew that they had large collections and were relatively easy clients to find.
However, working for such customers, whose collections typically are older, means learning special handling procedures.
"For the New York Historical Society
and the Library of Congress
when we've gone onsite, their staff took our people through a training session," Stokes says."In the past 10 years, we've gone through this review process several times and have developed our own process."
This helps, Stokes
says, when JJT
winds up scanning images at its headquarters.
According to Stokes
, the company specializes in SAS software from the SAS Institute
in North Carolina.But the software group also provides support for the company's imaging division.
"The software group does two things," Stokes explains."It provides software support for our imaging group, and it provides software support for outside companies."
For example, the company's software division helped develop the software necessary to automate the digitizing process for the Library of Congress project, Stokes
is constantly improving on this imaging software, which affects many clients in terms of the company's capabilities."He
notes that the two divisions often work in tandem "to provide new functionality in servicing clients."Nevertheless, Stokes
says that either business could be self-sufficient.