KBA 200TH ANNIVERSARY IN­TER­VIEW

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Contents - ▶ NEWS & TECH STAFF RE­PORT

Au­gust 9 marks the 200th anniversary of Koenig & Bauer AG’s found­ing. In the past 200 years, the com­pany has ex­panded be­yond man­u­fac­tur­ing presses and evolved into a global op­er­a­tion with a port­fo­lio of prod­ucts.

It was 1807 when Ger­man in­ven­tor Friedrich Koenig first set out for Lon­don with a dream of cre­at­ing a steam-driven print­ing press. There, fate aligned his path with that of pre­ci­sion en­gi­neer An­dreas Bauer. In 1814, The Times be­came the first pa­per to be printed on a dou­ble-cylin­der press that the two men de­signed.

The duo re­turned to Ger­many and on Au­gust 9, 1817, they signed a con­tract es­tab­lish­ing Sch­nell­pressen­fab­rik Koenig & Bauer in a sec­u­lar­ized monastery in Oberzell, near Wurzburg. In 1823, the Haude und Spen­er­sche Zeitung in Ber­lin be­came the first Euro­pean news­pa­per printed on presses from Oberzell.

When Koenig died in 1833, his widow, Fanny Koenig, and Bauer, con­tin­ued his work, de­vel­op­ing new presses at a fever­ish pace. By 1838, KBA had delivered its hun­dredth press.

In 1860, Bauer died. With both the found­ing mem­bers of the suc­cess­ful press man­u­fac­turer gone, the KBA legacy was car­ried on by Koenig’s two sons, Wil­helm Koenig and Friedrich Koenig Jr., who de­vel­oped new presses and mod­ern­ized the Oberzell fac­tory.

Web print­ing is born

In 1876, the first webfed press was delivered to a news­pa­per in Magde­burg, and in 1886 Wil­helm Koenig in­vented the vari­able web press. He de­signed the first four-color press in 1888, and spe­cial ma­chines de­signed to print lux­ury prod­ucts fol­lowed. At the same time, Wil­helm be­came in­ter­ested in se­cu­ri­ties print­ing, a field in which KBA would make ma­jor strides by the early 1950s and even­tu­ally be­come a tech­nol­ogy leader. In 1895, KBA’s 5000th cylin­der press left the fac­tory.

From 1895 to into the 1920s, Con­stantin Koenig and founder's grand­son Al­brecht Bolza helped to shape the new course of the com­pany. In 1901, a new fac­tory was built at the site that the com­pany’s head­quar­ters still oc­cu­pies to­day.

In 1951, a tal­ented young de­sign en­gi­neer named Hans-Bern­hard Schune­mann arrived on the scene. His first of over 250 patents was granted and was sub­se­quently used in another of his in­ven­tions, the sheetfed gravure press. In 1959, Hans Bolza for­mally adopted Schune­mann. Bolza-Schune­mann served as pres­i­dent of Koenig & Bauer for al­most 25 years, from 1971 to 1995, and spear­headed the launch of the KBA Group from 1990.

Ex­ec­u­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity was sub­se­quently placed in the hands of his close partner and long-serv­ing fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor, Rein­hart Siew­ert. In 2011, Claus Bolza-Schune­mann took the reins, rep­re­sent­ing the sixth gen­er­a­tion of the found­ing fam­ily at the com­pany’s helm.

The era of web off­set presses from Wurzburg be­gan with the Com­man­der in 1969. Over time, the still-dom­i­nant satel­lite de­sign prin­ci­ple was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­plex. At the be­gin­ning of the 1990s, this trend was an­swered with four-high tower presses, the Jour­nal and Colora. The less ex­pen­sive fourhigh tower de­sign ap­pealed to many new in­ter­na­tional cus­tomers. The sin­glewidth Comet and Con­ti­nent ma­chines later joined those presses.

New face of news­pa­per print­ing

Much has changed in the world of print­ing since KBA’s hum­ble be­gin­nings in 1817, and 200 years later, the face of news­pa­per print­ing looks very dif­fer­ent. In fact, it looks much dif­fer­ent to­day than it did even just 50 years ago.

KBA has weath­ered the tough cli­mate over the past two decades as a num­ber of pub­lish­ers con­tinue to shut­ter news­pa­pers or cut print days in fa­vor of on­line pub­li­ca­tion. In the midst of a news­pa­per down­turn, the ven­dor brought to mar­ket the com­pact Cortina press, in 2000. And in 2002, it landed its largest-ever North Amer­i­can news­pa­per in­stal­la­tion at The Kansas City Star as part of the pub­lisher’s new $199-mil­lion down­town print­ing plant. The Star’s two par­al­lel presslines com­prise a to­tal of 216 print­ing cou­ples, 36 tow­ers, 40 reel­stands and four fold­ers.

The Courier-Jour­nal in Louisville, Ken­tucky, also made a ma­jor in­vest­ment in KBA that same year as part of its $80-mil­lion ex­pan­sion and up­grade project, with the largest Colora in­stal­la­tion in the U.S.

In 2007, KBA made its en­try into the 4-by-1 press mar­ket with the Prisma press. The Is­land Packet in Hil­ton Head, South Carolina, be­came the world’s first news­pa­per to in­stall the press. That same year, KBA inked its first sale of a Colora dou­blewide Ber­liner for­mat press in North Amer­ica with the Read­ing (Penn­syl­va­nia) Ea­gle.

KBA’s founders, Friedrich Koenig and An­dreas Bauer

KBA un­veiled the wa­ter­less, com­pact Cortina press in 2000.

KBA’s first web press was cre­ated in 1876.

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