Robert Simpson, co-founder of Electrosonic, has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the UK's New Year Honours list for services to the audiovisual industry. The award was made in recognition of his unwavering commitment to the audio and video industry over the past 52 years.
Over the last five decades Simpson has helped to define what we now know as the audio and video industry. In his early years, working alongside co-founders Denis Naisbitt and Michael Ray, Electrosonic developed products associated with slide projection and ‘multi-image’ presentation. Often working from a blank page, on electronic designs that had never been done before, often in countries far from home, they created invention after invention for one-of-a-kind experiences and attractions in museums, theme parks and cultural landmarks. Right from the start Electrosonic was engineering large scale audiovisual installations, including complex multi-media shows in Tehran in the 1970s, the world’s biggest videowall (850 CRT monitors) at EXPO 92 in Seville and major theme park installations from 1990 onwards.
On being advised of the award Simpson said, “I am pleased to receive this award, not only for myself, but also for my colleagues at Electrosonic. Recognition of the company as a significant force within the audiovisual industry will be as welcome to them as it is to me.”
Simpson’s contributions to the industry include far more than being one of its founding fathers. He is a frequent writer and lecturer on audio-visual and lighting control topics, and his books include Videowalls - The Book of the Big Electronic Image (Focal Press 1997), Lighting Control – Technology and Applications (Focal Press 2003) and Electrosonic – 50 Years on the Audio-Visual Front Line (Electrosonic 2014). He provides CPD accredited industry training programmes for InfoComm International and for the Royal Institute of British Architects, (RIBA). In 2008 he was awarded the InfoComm Distinguished Achievement Award and in 1978 the company was awarded the Queen’s Award to Industry for Export Achievement. He is also a member of the Installation Hall of Fame, having won the 15 Years of Achievement Award at the InstallAwards 2014 (this publication's 15th anniversary year).
He was chairman of Electrosonic Ltd for the period 1964-2004 and from 2005-2015 was a director of, and advisor to, the international Electrosonic Group. He is a life member of the SMPTE (USA), and a Fellow of the BKSTS (UK).
Now director emeritus of the Electrosonic Group, Simpson remains dedicated to the industry. He continues to write and provide industry lectures worldwide, give presentations to new staff as part of their induction programme and is the editor of Electrosonic’s biannual publication Electrosonic World which is currently on issue number 18.
The criterion for the MBE is that it is awarded “for an outstanding achievement or service to the community. This will have had a long-term, significant impact and stand out as an example to others.”
Speaking of the award, Robert Simpson said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being in an industry which has developed out of all recognition in the nearly 53 years since Electrosonic was founded, and am proud of the contribution we have made.”