Scotsman obituaries: Meyer Averbuch, printed circuit board pioneer and engineer

Meyer Averbuch, engineer. Born: 10 July, 1934 in Cape Town, South Africa. Died: 6 September, 2022 in Edinburgh, aged 88

Meyer Averbuch, co-founder of one of Scotland’s oldest electronics and engineering companies, has died. He had just turned 88.

He passed away at home in Joppa, Edinburgh after a long battle with Parkinson’s. His family said it was his wish to donate his remains to research into the neurodegenerative disease.

Meyer, who co-founded Musselburgh-based ZOT Engineering, was born in Cape Town, South Africa. A toolmaker by trade, he emigrated to Israel, then London where he met his future wife Ainslie. Together they moved to Scotland, where he became head of toolmaking at Hewlett Packard’s factory in South Queensferry.

Meyer Averbuch is remembered by colleagues for his sense of adventure in toolmaking

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Known for a quick and analytical mind, Meyer was remembered by colleagues for his exceptional ability to understand machining processes, and his sense of adventure in toolmaking. “Meyer would try anything,” former HP colleague John Wastle recalled in his 2016 memoir, describing the toolshop’s brief foray into gravity die-casting, an especially explosive experiment that involved molten aluminium.

In the tradition of HP founders Bob Hewlett and Dave Packard, Meyer was ahead of his time in recognising the potential for electronics fabrication and precision engineering. With partner Robin Cross, Meyer founded ZOT Engineering in 1975, starting in a garage of his then Gilmerton home, and becoming one of East Lothian’s largest employers. ZOT continues to be one of Europe’s leading printed circuit board manufacturers.

Meyer was born in Cape Town in July 1934, the third child of father Noach Moshe and mother Chava Kaplansky, whose family founded Lithuania’s first professional photographic studio. Meyer’s parents migrated from Lithuania to then Palestine as Zionists but later broke with the movement, relocating to South Africa. His father worked as a grocer and became a prominent Trotskyist and member of the Communist Party of South Africa.

Multi-lingual, Meyer in later years studied Yiddish and took up writing as a member of the Meadows Bar Writers Group, creating poems and short stories. His longer work includes Two Brides for Two Brothers, a historical novel based on the life of his grandfather Yerucham and his grandmother, Rivka, a descendant of the Gaon of Vilna (Genius of Vilnius).

A celebration of Meyer’s life is scheduled for 2pm, 27th September at Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh. He is survived by his wife of more than sixty years, Ainslie; children Shaeron, Ralph and Euan; grandchildren Ben, Lola and Sally; sisters Annie and Taube; daughter-in-law Sheila, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

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