Wang Zhen

Wang Zhen was born during the Yuan Dynasty of China in 1271. He became a government official and saw a need to advance the future of agriculture in China by documenting and publishing the many technical innovations he saw throughout China with the hope of alleviating poverty by spreading that knowledge. To achieve his ambition, an effective printing method would be needed to print not just a few copies but thousands of copies of an extensive manual, not only for the workers but also for officials who could guide their people.

Wang Zhen’s book, the Nong Shu or The Book of Farming was published in 1313 and had 800 pages and 100,000 words. It was a highly illustrated agricultural bible, full of Da Vinci-like drawings that would be used throughout China to instruct farmers and facilitate knowledge transfer.

Wang Zhen’s primary innovation was a system that improved the speed and efficiency of typesetting.  It had rotary tables to help typesetters quickly sort and process thousands of carved wooden blocks for use in a printing press. This mass-produced book and the ensuing industry of printing would be part of the driving force for the growth of the paper industry internationally.

Wang Zhen explored several approaches but determined that wooden block movable type would be most effective since the many unique Chinese characters that would be needed could be quickly hand-carved. His work with wooden movable type was primarily conducted in the years 1297 or 1298.

Though not the inventor of movable type itself, he created the first mass-produced book. Its illustrations show a dizzying array of technologies such as water wheels, water-powered bellows, pumps, gears and pulleys, the blast furnace, and other inventions that were long attributed to later European inventors. Although controversial, one American author even argues that copies of the Nong Shu arriving in Italy may have inspired Da Vinci and sparked the Italian Renaissance. In any case, there is little doubt that Wang Zhen’s accomplishment should also be recognized with that of Gutenberg and other giants of innovation.

Gutenberg has been recognized as one of the greatest inventors of all time for the monumental impact he had on printing. His printed Bible has often been called the world’s first substantial mass-produced book printed with movable type. That achievement came in 1455, just 142 years after the world’s actual first mass-produced book printed with movable type by long-neglected inventor and government official, Wang Zhen.

Wang Zhen died in 1368.


Norm Dove

Norm Dove was born in Romford, Essex, England on October 29, 1941. He attended Thurrock Technical College from 1957 to 1963, where he obtained a Higher National Certificate plus endorsements. From 1957-65, he worked with Van den Burgs and Jurgen of Unilever Brothers (1957-65); with Dominion Engineering’s Paper machine division (1965); with American Can Co. as project engineer (1965-68) and then with Crestbrook Forest Industries, B.C., Canada as Sr. project Engineer (1968-77).

Dove’s legacy began in 1970 when, while working for Crestbrook, he designed a better steam shower system for a Fourdrinier that enabled a significant increase in machine speed. He obtained a patent for his invention, the first of over 33 in his name. The boost in productivity from this device would lead to his founding of Devron Engineering Ltd. in 1972 and becoming its President.

The first sale of the now famous Devronizer to Consolidated Papers in New Richmond, Quebec resulted in a 15% increase in production on a linerboard machine. His Devronizer would be applied over the Fourdrinier, the couch, and in the press section, with impressive success. But Dove’s quest for innovation did not stop there.

His company soon expanded its product line to include dry-end steam applications (Calendizer), slice lip actuators (Autoslice), calendar stack actuators (Calcoil), and coat weight actuators (ProCoat). Dove’s SuperFlex Titanium Slice Lip gave significant gains in productivity and quality by enabling much tighter basis weight control. As business grew, Dove required employees to be trained in Edward Deming’s system of statistical process control. He drove attitudes of quality and zero-failures in every aspect of their work.

In the area of cross-direction (CD) actuators and controls, Devron enjoyed a worldwide market share of 30% by 1990. Compact, automated actuator beams networked to the mill’s QCS system allowed CD variation in sheet properties to be dramatically reduced, often by over 50%. The CD actuators and controls from Dove’s work continue to benefit many of the paper machines in operation today.

In September 1991, Devron was acquired by Measurex, which in turn was acquired by Honeywell in 1997. The Devron methodology and passion for excellence continues today at Honeywell’s Center of Excellence in the original Devron factory in North Vancouver, B.C.

Norm Dove and his wife, Nan, live in Echo Valley Ranch, B.C., Canada.  Norm has three daughters, Ashlie, Megan and Amy.

Havilah Babcock

Havilah Babcock was born in Franklin, Vermont on September 8, 1837.  He attended school in Vermont and in Waukesha, Wisconsin before his family came to Neenah in 1849. There, at age twelve, he and his brothers worked for their father, a building contractor hired to construct the Neenah segment of the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway.

In 1857, while still in their teens, Babcock and his friend Alfred Kimberly started their own dry goods business. The two young men also established the unusual business culture of equal ownership and shared management. In 1869 they made use of Babcock’s construction background to build the Reliance Mill, the city’s largest flourmill.

In 1872, Kimberly and Babcock organized a joint stock paper company with four other investors. A month later the investors changed to include C. B. Clark and F. C. Shattuck and the company renamed Kimberly, Clark & Co. In 1874, by a memorandum of agreement, the equal ownership was formally established between the four partners: Kimberly, Babcock, Clark and Shattuck. In doing so they consciously avoided the dissension that plagued other businesses and experienced an unparalleled rate of growth and expansion.

Beginning with the construction of the Globe Paper Mill in 1872, the company purchased the original Neenah Paper Mill in 1874; organized the Atlas Paper Company in 1878; constructed the Vulcan Paper Mill in 1881; the Tioga Paper Mill in 1883; the Badger Paper mills in 1884; the new Neenah Paper Mill in 1885; organized the Telulah Paper Company in 1887; and constructed the Kimberly mill in 1889.  Through this rapid expansion of capacity, Kimberly, Clark & Co. established the Fox River Valley as one of the leading centers of paper production in the United States of America.

In 1880, the company was incorporated as Kimberly & Clark Co. with Kimberly as President and his closest associate Babcock, as Vice President, working together for the next twenty years. Babcock would also take a highly visible leadership role in the organization of the Shattuck & BabcockPaper Co. in 1890, which would become the largest producer of fine writing papers in the U.S.

In 1889, F.J. Sensenbrenner (1998 Hall of Fame Inductee) had joined Kimberly & Clark Co. as an accountant.  As Clark died in 1890, Shattuck in 1891 and Kimberly withdrew from work in 1905; Babcock served as a pivotal link in the transition of leadership to F. J. Sensenbrenner. In 1928 when Kimberly died and Sensenbrenner became President, the name of the company was changed for the fourth time to Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

Havilah Babcock died on April 21, 1905. He was survived by his wife and five children.

David A. Bossen

David A. Bossen was born in Clinton, Iowa on January 9, 1927. He was 12 years old when his father died and so he started working at the Clinton Post Office and at age 14 rode shotgun when they drove the bank deposits to Chicago. In 1950, he married Doris Stephens.

Bossen served in the U.S. Marine Corps (1945-46) and received a fleet appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD (1946-49). He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in electrical engineering from M.I.T ca. 1951. Later, he worked for Alcoa as Industrial Engineer (1948-51) then as VP & GM for Industrial Nucleonics (AccuRay) (1952-67) which was later bought by Combustion Engineering and then in turn was acquired by ABB.

In 1968, Bossen founded Measurex Corporation and was at its helm until 1997. This was a revolutionary period for the paper industry, since prior to this time few paper machines were equipped with on-line measurement sensors and control systems. The technology developed by Measurex led to improved paper quality, reduced paper losses, better machine efficiency, energy savings and optimized use of raw materials.

Bossen was so confident of his technology that he offered a “Results Guarantee” of 99% uptime operation. Hence, as the “Results Company”, Measurex grew rapidly installing over 3,000 paper machine control systems worldwide by 1988. Today, close to 100% of paper machines use on-line control systems benefitting from technologies developed by Measurex (and subsequently by others) that allow paper machines to operate efficiently.

Bossen was also an innovator and a leader. He surrounded himself with the most outstanding personnel that he could find, across a wide array of disciplines. He followed an intensely involved, hands-on management approach and treated his employees as family. This led to a company that the employees called “an amazing culture”.

Measurex was acquired by Honeywell in 1997. Bossen had served Measurex as CEO and then Chairman of the Board until 1997. He retired in 2000 as “Chairman Emeritus”. He was a TAPPI Fellow, a member of PIMA, and a member of American Electronics Association. He had 19 patents to his credits.

David Bossen died on April 21, 2015 at his home in Menlo Park, California at the age of 88. He was preceded in death by his first wife of 40 year, Doris, and his daughter Julie Ayerza. He is survived by his second wife of 24 years, Darlene, three daughters, one son, nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.


Bjarne Holmbom

Bjarne Holmbom was born in Ingå, Finland on September 28, 1943. His father was a farmer and his mother a school teacher in the village where they lived. He had two brothers, one died and the other has continued to farm.

Holmbom went to school at the age of five, which is rather unusual in Finland where the normal school starting age is 7 years. He finished high school in 1961 at the age of 17. He joined the ÅA University to study chemistry in the faculty of chemical engineering that provided education in wood chemistry and pulping technology. He earned his M.Sc. degree in 1967 and Ph.D. in 1978 and got very interested in the chemistry of wood and its application in new product development.

After his Ph.D., Holmbom continued to work at the ÅA University, first as a research scientist and later took on different teaching responsibilities and, in 1981, was appointed Professor. During this period he also visited the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (1979–1980); North Carolina State University. U.S.A. (1985–1986); and INPG- EFPG, Grenoble, France (1999). He retired from his professorial responsibilities in 2008 but continued to work as a Scientific Advisor at ÅA University. In addition, together with his son, he also ran a small family company, Separation Research Ltd., providing analytical and preparative services mainly for the forest industry.

Holmbom started his research career working on tall oil produced in the chemical pulping processes and later expanded into environmental and paper chemistry areas. His key expertise and innovations relate to the utilization of wood components as a resource for value added products. For example, he extracted lignans and other polymers, such as poly-phenols, from wood and developed their usage in medicines, in functional foods, sun creams, technical antioxidants, and as natural organic biocides.

Holmbom and his colleague, Christer Eckerman, worked on breakthrough research and innovation creating a platform for large-scale separation, isolation, purification and applications of chemical components from wood, especially knots. It is said that Holmbom’s research has made an important contribution towards making the forest products industry a biorefining industry.

Holmbom has 14 patents to his credit, has published 266 papers, and 31 book-chapters.

He received many awards and recognitions such as the Marcus Wallenberg Prize, shared with Christer Eckerman (2008); Mark of Honor presented by the President of Finland; Langen Medal FPEA (2006), Finnish Science Award by Ministry of Education (2006); and Tallus Prize for Environmental Research (1996).

Bjarne Holmbom lives with his wife, Ulla Ericke, in Åbo, Finland.

Alf de Ruvo

Alf de Ruvo was born October 28, 1938 in Sweden. After obtaining his M.Sc. in Chemistry and a Licentiate (Ph.D.) in Engineering with emphasis on paper technology, he moved to the United States where he worked as a research scientist for about 2 years.

In 1970, he accepted an appointment at the Swedish Forest Research Laboratory (STFI) where he quickly rose to become head of research in their Pulp and Paper Technology Department and worked on many projects dealing with paper physics, paper composites, converting and product properties. He was the motivating force behind a unique experimental paper machine. His greatest achievement was creating a research climate that inspired people. He was full of imagination and built a great international contact network.

Alf de Ruvo’s soul was in research. In 1983, he became Director of Research at Sunds Defibrator AB where he achieved many breakthroughs of new technologies. He was committed not only to the technical development but also to the introduction of Sund’s technologies to customers.

In 1987, he joined Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) where, in 1993, he became the executive vice-president and the head of R&D. At SCA he was the moving force behind radical renewal of the SCA’s product portfolio thereby establishing a new research culture in the company. He spearheaded a composite materials approach on paper packaging materials.  He also worked on the water absorption/sorption and surface chemistry properties of hygienic products. He implemented the use of CTMP in the adsorption core of hygiene products

Alf de Ruvo’s achievements for the Swedish forest products industry in general, and for SCA in particular, have few parallels. He improved the relationship between industry and academia. He also initiated forest products industrial research at many academic institutions and his efforts were decisive for the development of what is now the Mid-Sweden University. He has published 79 technical papers.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of STFI, served on the board of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, and was Chairman of the Board of the Forest Products Industry Research College (FPIRC) at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

In recognition of extreme contributions to the Pulp and Paper Industry, the Swedish Association of Pulp and Paper Engineers awarded him its prestigious Ekman Medal in 1998.

Alf de Ruvo died on September 23, 2000. A foundation was organized in his honor that awards a scholarship of 500,000 Swedish Krona (SEK) in his name every year.