Adapted from Visio MVPs’ History Page


Paul Brainerd, Jeremy Jaech, Dave Walter, Mike Templeman, and Mark Sundstrom joined together and formed Aldus to target the page layout market for smaller newspapers. A three-way relationship was formed between Apple, Adobe which was the developer of the software that ran the Apple LaserWriter printer and Aldus who developed PageMaker to create this desktop publishing market.

May 1989

On May 1, 1989—shortly after leaving Aldus—Jeremy Jaech incorporates Axon Corporation as a placeholder for whatever he might do next.

September 1990

Axon begins operations. See Ted Johnson’s recollections of Visio’s early days.

Axon Corporation was founded to develop and market mainstream business graphics software products for personal computers. The Seattle-based company’s co-founders include Jeremy Jaech and Dave Walter, two of the founders of Aldus Corporation and Ted Johnson, the lead developer of Aldus PageMaker for Windows.

Jeremy and Ted believed the just-released Windows 3 would be widely adopted as a corporate standard. They anticipated that technical drawing would be essential as the third leg of a stool otherwise resting on words and numbers.


Before the first product was launched the name was changed to Shapeware because the company had come up with an innovative way of drawing on the computer. They used building blocks, or shapes and people would assemble drawings rather than create them from scratch, because most people can't draw. So it was sort of a building block or Tinker Toy approach to creating drawings. And so the building blocks were called shapes in our lingo.

The company was located down in the retail district of Seattle, right across the street from the Bon Marche. The week after they changed the name to Shapeware; the Bon Marche hung big banners outside their building to promote their "shapeware sale" for ladies' lingerie.

November 1992

Visio 1.0 released.


Shapeware establishes an online presence by acquiring a section on the Windows Vendor Forum D (WINAPD) on CompuServe.

January 1993

Visio Lite released.

March 1993

Visio Home released.

April 1993

“Developing Visio Shapes” released.

October 1993

Visio 2.0 released.

November 1994

Visio has an open house in their new CompuServe forum (VISIO). Rather than sharing a section of the WINAPD forum they have a new forum of their own. The winners of the week long open house contest were:

November 14, 1994

Visio 3.0 released.

Visio Express 3.0 for Microsoft Windows.

Visio Express 3.0 for Lotus SmartSuite.

Visio 3.0 (International Edition).

Visio 3.0 German.

December 1994

Visio Home 3.0

August 18, 1995

Visio 4.0 released.

August 1995

Visio Technical 4.0 released

November 1995

Initial Public Stock Offering under the ticker symbol VSIO. The company changes it's name to Visio.

Enhanced event communication between Visio and solutions. New support for events in Visio can be used by developers to trigger actions in their code.

December 12, 1995

Visio 4.0B released

Visio 4.0C releaseddd

June 1996

Visio Technical 4.1 released.

January 1997

Visio 4.5 Professional released

Visio 4.5 Technical released

March 1997

First annual Visio Solutions Conference.

August 8th 1997

2 for 1 stock split.

August 1997

Visio Network Equipment and Visio Maps released.

Visio 5.0 Std/Pro/Tech

May 1, 1997

Visio acquires network equipment shapes from Sysdraw.


Visio 5.0A Std/Pro/Tech released.

Visio 5.0B Std/Pro/Tech released.

Feb 10, 1998

Visio acquires database design technology from Infomodelers Inc.

March 1998

Visio releases IntelliCAD.

July 10, 1998

Visio acquires network discovery technology from Kaspia Systems Inc

August 4, 1998

D.J. Norman announces that the Visio forum on CompuServe is closing. For the next year and a half Visio uses a web based forum for providing online support.

November 1998

Visio Enterprise 5.0 released

March 4, 1999

Visio moves to a new home at the World Trade Center in Seattle.

March 30, 1999

eVisio (code named Burger King) web site goes live.

Visio announced the eVisio product line, made-to-order products and online services configurable via the Internet. With more than 250 unique configurations, the eVisio product line lets customers start from five solutions packages (Information Technology, Engineering, Software Development, Facilities Management and eVisio Everything) or build their own eVisio products through the selection of two, six, nine or thirteen optional solutions. Optional solutions include Business Process, Sales and Marketing, Office Management, Networking, Advanced Networking, Database, Data Flow Diagrams, Unified Modeling Language (UML), Object Oriented Software, Windows UI Design, Applications Design, Process Engineering, Facilities Management, Fluid Power, Electrical Engineering, Architecture, Building Services Engineering and Bi-directional CAD Conversion.

Visio ships the completed application on a CD-ROM by overnight delivery service. The disc contains additional functions that can be accessed later by buying a key from Visio. Product costs range from $225 (U.S.) for a basic "build-your-own" package with two solution components to $640 (U.S.) for the high-end eVisio Everything package, which includes every shape, wizard and add-on that is currently available in Visio Standard 5.0c, Visio Technical 5.0 Plus and Visio Professional 5.0c.

August 4, 1999

Visio 2000 released

September 15, 1999

Microsoft offers to buy Visio for $1.3 billion in a stock deal. Visio posted $166 million in Sales in the previous year.

Visio's stock price shot up 19 percent, or $6.37 1/2 a share to $39.87 1/2 on the Nasdaq Stock Market today. Microsoft, also traded on Nasdaq, was down $2.50 to $92.56 1/4 a share.

Today is the end of the company's last full quarter. Its products are now available in twelve languages and are used by 3.5 million people in 45 countries. Sales hit $50.1 million, with a net income of $9.5 million.

November 1999

Visio Enterprise 2000 released (Code name Venice).

December 1999

Visio has 675 employees.

January 7th, 2000

Visio acquired by Microsoft in a stock swap for $1.5 billion US. Each Visio shareholder received 0.45 Microsoft shares for each Visio share.

This was Microsoft's largest acquisition to date. Visio is now a division of Microsoft's Business Productivity Group, with its office remaining on Seattle's waterfront.

Jeremy Jaech headed the new Visio Division within Microsoft's business productivity group. Visio co-founder Johnson also become a Microsoft vice president, reporting to Jaech.

Comments on Visio Corp Timeline

Ed Allen9:24 PM on Monday, June 3, 2019

I have .vsd files created in the timeframe of 1897 to 2000 but no lnger have anything that can view these files, Is there anything available that can view these files and possibly save them as PDf or JPEG files?