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Alan Ashton

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Alan Ashton, Co-Founder, WordPerfect Corporation; Professor, Brigham Young University. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah.

WordPerfect

Alan Ashton mormon
Ashton began his work in computer science at the University of Utah, studying computing and music in the early 1970s. In 1977 Ashton began work on word processing when he created a spec for an improved console-based word processor. His spec outlined various innovations at the time, including continuous documents, function key shortcuts, modeless editing, and primitive WYSIWYG formatting.

Along with Bruce Bastian, his student, Ashton incorporated Satellite Software International, which would later become WordPerfect Corporation, in September of 1979. In 1987, Ashton left BYU to serve full time as president and CEO of WordPerfect Corporation.

Ashton ran WordPerfect as a triumvirate, along with Bastian and W.E. (“Pete”) Peterson. Ashton and Bastian each controlled 49.5% of the company, and Peterson controlled 1%. While Ashton was the titular head of WordPerfect, Peterson ran the day-to-day operations, and was frequently mistaken as the head of the company by the press.

Ashton's management style was hands-off. At one point, the entire development organization of WordPerfect reported directly to him. Peterson asserts that he was agreeable and preferred to avoid contention.

In 1990 Ashton was identified by Forbes magazine as one of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the U.S.

Ashton joined the Novell Corporation Board of Directors in 1994, and resigned in 1996.

Ashton was not affilliated with Ashton-Tate, a database company and contemporary of WordPerfect in the 1980s. Ashton is the grandson of late Mormon Church president David O. McKay.

In in April, 1999, Dr. Alan C. Ashton founded ASH Capital, a venture investment company controlled by Dr. Ashton and managed by James Savas and David Harkness.

Thanksgiving Point

After WordPerfect was acquired by Novell and Ashton’s responsibilities were alleviated, he and his wife founded Thanksgiving Point. Thanksgiving Point is located in Lehi, Utah, within 20 miles of WordPerfect’s former corporate headquarters in Orem.

“We wanted to create something for the people around us," says Ashton. "We've been blessed financially and with a large family. We wanted to give something back to the community and the families in our area.”

Today, Thanksgiving Point provides the community with a place where adults and children can learn about farming, gardening and cooking. Additionally, Thanksgiving Point provides the community with a championship caliber golf course, a museum of ancient life and a movie theater.

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