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New Axon Corp. Seeks Graphic Answer

Three leading Seattle graphics software programmers with connections to Aldus and Atex publishing companies have formed a new company aimed at “mainstreaming” graphics use on personal computers.

Calling itself Axon Corp., the group hopes to capitalize on the success of Microsoft's Windows 3.0 program for IBM-compatible computers with software that will enable people using word processors, spreadsheets and other applications to incorporate graphics design and illustrations into their documents.

“With Windows providing graphics capability to a whole new audience, a lot of people are suddenly faced with putting illustrations or graphic elements into their regular work,” said Jeremy Jaech, 35, co-founder of Aldus who helped develop its popular PageMaker, the program responsible for the term “desktop publishing.”

“Our product is for people who may not be trained in the use of graphics and don't need the capabilities of a full-fledged illustration program, but who are now being expected to produce graphically aware documents,” Jaech said.

Joining Jaech are Ted Johnson, 34, and Dave Walter, 41, who helped create the Windows version of PageMaker, which was originally developed for the Apple Macintosh computer. All three met while working for Atex Inc., a leading computer system for newspapers and magazines.

Illustration programs use basic graphics objects, such as circles, triangles and squares, to put together drawings, logos and other design elements. Axon's program will adopt a “show as you go” approach, leading the “generalist” user through each design step.

“You have to put tremendous engineering into something that is this easy to use,” said Johnson, who estimated that it will be 18 to 24 months before the program appears. It will sell for about $200 to $300 - much less than the $800 price of sophisticated graphics programs.

Although it will first appear for the Windows environment, the program will be adapted to the IBM-Microsoft OS/2 operating system and may also appear for Macintosh.

The three provided their own seed money but expect to turn to private investors and venture capitalists as product development continues. Projections call for $1.5 million to $2 million to develop the program, and an additional $1 million or more for marketing and promotion.

The Seattle Times

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