Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pioneering technology firm in the publishing world, founded in Massachusetts in 1973 by engineer brothers Danny and Charlie Ying. Atex publishing systems were based on highly-modified DEC PDP-11 minicomputers with features far ahead of their time. The systems included clustered CPUs, a distributed file system and dumb terminals that displayed memory-mapped video and featured keyboards with up to 140 keys (distinctively, the cursor keys were on the left-hand side). A custom operating system tied everything together.
The systems originally were designed to produce the news portion of newspapers, but later on a system for the production of advertising pages also was marketed to great success.
Atex publishing systems were installed at hundreds of publications around the world. In the United States, Atex was used by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Chicago Daily News, The Louisville Courier-Journal, the Columbus Dispatch, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Indianapolis Star, the Seattle Times and many other newspapers large and small. In 2005, a few of these systems still are in use. Major magazines that have been published on Atex include Newsweek, Time Magazine and U.S. News and World Report.
Atex also sold systems to law firms, catalog retailers and other businesses that needed very robust word processing systems.
The company was late to embrace the potential of personal computers and struggled to replace its PDP-11 architecture with something more modern. In this re-shaping of its product line it had more success in the newspaper advertising system market than anywhere else.
Atex has had numerous ownership and management teams. The founders sold to Kodak in the 1980s. Kodak sold Atex to a private group of investors in the 1990s. In 2002 a merger changed the company's name to Atex Media Command. In December 2004 the company announced its intention to be known again as "Atex."
In its heyday, Atex's key rival in the newspaper technology marketplace was System Integrators Inc. (SII), based in Sacramento, California and founded by entrepreneur Jim Lenane. Newspapers published with SII systems included the Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post, the Charlotte Observer and The Miami Herald. In a 2000 merger, SII became part of the publishing technology firm net-linx.
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