Adi Tarkay says, “In 1983, I was discharged from the Army. From the IDF induction and discharge center, I went directly to my first job in Herzliya – at Scitex. There, for three months, I underwent an instructors course, designed to train instructors to teach clients in the use of the company’s high-tech products. One day, while walking down the company’s glittering corridor in Herzliya, I heard an authoritative voice calling me, ‘Hey, young man, come here for a moment. I want to show you something.’ I turned around and was gobsmacked to see Efi standing at the doorway to a conference room filled with chairs.
“He invited me in. On the conference table was a large cumbersome yellow suitcase. ‘You know what this is?’ he asked. ‘No, I replied. ‘It’s the world’s first flat scanner. And it’s mobile!’ glowed Efi with happiness. Until then, every scanner in the world resembled a drum more than anything else. Efi seemed perturbed by my reaction, ‘It’s too big. Who can carry it? Maybe only ten crazy correspondents.’ I added, ‘It needs to be integral to the camera. No film, no development. Connect the camera to a modem, transmit the picture by telephone line to a Scitex computer at the other side of the world – and poof! You’re a winner.’ Efi looked at me and laughed. ‘I like you,’ he said. ‘You’re smart, but a bit crazy.’
Invention of a revolutionary auto focus mechanism .When Efi Arazi was just 25, he invented a revolutionary auto focus mechanism, which made his name in the electro-optics industry. Upon his return to Israel, Arazi founded Scitex Corporation, which, in 1979, unveiled the world’s first digital pre-press computer and Charge Coupled Device (CCD) scanner. With these accomplishments, Scitex became one of the top companies in the world for digital computer imaging. Scitex founded subsidiaries, which sold its products through direct marketing in 40 countries worldwide. It was one of Israel’s first export-oriented high-tech companies. In 1990, the company achieved $600 million in sales, and had 4,000 employees at its peak. Two years earlier, Arazi resigned as president and CEO of the company.
The ill tidings: Efi Arazi, the entrepreneur and one of the founders of Israeli high tech, passed away on his 76th birthday. His widow, Dalya Arazi, wrote on Facebook, “Rest in peace, dear and beloved man. You are engraved in my heart forever, you and our memories which are more precious to me than gold.""After my death, mourn me this way;‘There was a man – and see: he is no more;before his time this man diedand his life’s song in mid bar stopped;and oh, it is sad. One more song he hadand now the song is gone for good,gone for good!"(H. N. Bialik, After my Death)Efi Arazi is one of the prominent sources of inspiration for Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs. He was a “start-upist” even before the word was coined. He was an angel investor when angels existed only in heaven. He started with nothing and personally built three world-class companies, doing outstanding service for Israeli technology. His accomplishments included, while still a student at MIT, designing a camera used by the Apollo 11 astronauts to transmit the first pictures from the moon in 1969.
Here are some of the accomplishments that Efi Arazi has given for posterity: Efi Arazi was accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology without a high school matriculation certificate because of the impression he gave in his acceptance interview. He earned a degree Summa Cum Laude. During his studies, he was responsible for the satellite information device in the celestial navigation unit developed by Harvard University with NASA financing. The astronomers he worked with were struggling to overcome optical problems caused by light passing through the earth’s atmosphere. Arazi, together with Prof. Mario Grossi, succeeded in building a television camera that transmitted a signal through the atmosphere, which was used by Apollo 11 for sending the first historic pictures from the moon in 1969. When the first men landed on the moon, Efi watched on television the capsule that carried the astronauts there. The four steering cameras documented the astronauts’ historic steps on the moon.
Arazi served as chairman of several start-ups across a range of industries, from digital video to business procedures management and monitoring. Even while dealing with a serious illness, Arazi continued to influence the next generation of high-tech entrepreneurs through his sponsorship of the Efi Arazi School for Computer Science at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.In an interview with Globes in 2000, Arazi said, “I don’t want geeks, and it isn’t because there are many geeks in high tech. I don’t want ordinary people with ordinary minds. Nor is it obvious that people with outstanding grades are the right people, because the school might have shackled their thinking. I seek ingenuity, imagination, flexibility, and openness to change. There are mulish people in high tech too, who are convinced that they are the center of the world, wisdom, and genius. I am not interested in them. Nor am I necessarily seeking computer people. We are seeking special people, who have imagination. I am seeking people who can be freed from the patterns drilled into them by the school mechanisms.”
Multi channel television.In early 1994, as a believer in the axiom, “Those who do not renew – die,” Efi Arazi moved on to a new invention that came his way, when four young geniuses found a way to compress video films so that 24 television programs could be transmitted simultaneously. They had small dreams, but Arazi had bigger ones – about satellite broadcasting. They joined him in San Francisco, and he provided $3 million of his own money and a few million more from longstanding friends. He provided lawyers, secured contracts and orders, resulting in the founding of iMedia. In late 1999, Terayon Communication Systems Inc., controlled by the bothers Dr. Zaki and Shlomo Rakib, acquired iMedia for $100 million in a share-swap deal. Talking about the acquisition, Shlomo Rakib said, “Obviously, this is a great honor. Arazi is, after all, the grandfather of Israeli industry.” (from Globes, Israel’s business arena).
Mass market color printingIn 1990, Arazi, then 54, founded Electronics for Imaging Inc. (EFI) to develop mass-market color printing technology and a range of color printers for the office and home. The company partnered with top companies in the industry: Xerox, Eastman Kodak, and Canon. EFI invented unique software and controllers, which could convert any photocopier into a high-quality color printer, achieving immediate success. In 1992, the company had $600 million in sales, enabling private individuals to create and print high-quality digital color pictures on their home computer. In October 1997, the company’s market cap on Nasdaq reached $2.7 billion. Arazi sold all his shares in the company.
“After a few moments of silence, he added, ‘You’re absolutely right – this has to be made friendlier. I’ll make a note: reduce! Thank you, smart kid.’ I will always remember that meeting. It was something that reminded me of the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, but here, in Efi’s story, the king was not naked. The king was smart and listened to his subjects. That was not something to be taken for granted in the Israel of the 1980s. Efi set his stamp on entire generations of
technology entrepreneurs and dreamers. May his memory be blessed!”