The Axis story

True entrepreneurship and high standards

Axis Communications was formally founded in 1984 by Mikael Karlsson, Martin Gren and Keith Bloodworth. The year before, Mikael Karlsson and Martin Gren founded Karlsson&Gren Firmware, but when they met Keith Bloodworth, Axis Communications was established. Martin was the engineer with the product vision, Mikael was in business administration and Ketih was the person who gave us the name Axis as well as the indirect sales-model.

The business model has resulted in Axis becoming the global market leader in network cameras and video encoders. Today, we’re driving network video development, providing a variety of network video products and creating various Internet of Security Things products to broaden the use of IP networks.

Our milestones

The moments that made us

1984-1990 – IBM mainframe and minicomputer print servers
Our first product was a protocol converter that enabled the connection of PC printers to IBM mainframe 3270 networks. Despite being the last entrant to the market, we became number two in the world thanks to our innovative products and the fact that we were the only ones loyal to our partners in this business. During this period, we also opened our first US subsidiary.

At the time, everyone was talking about the death of the IBM mainframe. Having just founded a company based on IBM Mainframe printing we realized the need for innovation and we created a very open and innovative environment within the company allowing new ideas to be tested.

1990-1995 – A leader in networking technology for printers
During the emergence of the Internet, we were pioneers in network connectivity. With a focus on TCP/IP printing and later multi-protocol print servers – an Axis industry first – we grew at a rapid pace. We released our first ETRAX® chip, embedded devices with internet access, established offices in Asia and became number two in the industry. 

1995-1998 – Network access to everything - Thinservers 
Our focus was to make networks smarter, enabling more and more hardware to be connected simply and economically to IP networks. We decided to only work with open standards and avoid proprietary protocols.

In 1995, we successfully launched a network optical storage solution and became the world’s leading supplier in this category. We name this technology “Thinserver technology” which is known around the world today as the Internet of Things (IoT). Here we established a trend 20 years too early.

White papers on the topic: 

1996 – The world’s first network camera
Next, came one of our biggest milestones – we invented the world’s first network camera, Neteye 200. It revolutionized the industry, transforming video surveillance from analog into digital. Equally important was our decision to retain our indirect sales model, revolutionizing the way the CCTV industry operates. We did the worlds first network camera not because we understood the CCTV industry, rather because we could do it. Initially we named the market “lite surveillance”, e.g. applications such as not requiring more than the three frames per minute, which was our performance at the time, for application such as oil-riggs in the oil and gas industry. The Neteye 200 monitors the sea for oil spills, recorded video twice a day via web interface and saved the customer two air flights a day!

Neteye 200 was shown for the first time at N+I tradeshow in Atlanta. One of our very first customers was Mr. Steve Wozniak of Apple who ordered 2 of the original Neteys. It received several industry awards.

1998 - The world’s first video encoder
While marketing the Neteye 200 it came to our knowledge that customers liked it, but had analog cameras, which were not possible to replace with the Neteye. Therefore, we continued to extend IP connectivity to more types of hardware, such as the first video encoder (1998). Video encoders were a huge milestone, allowing users to integrate their existing analog CCTV system with the latest IP technology. Since our first network video products had very low performance we also invested in our first video chip, the ARTPEC-1. 

1999 - The Axis 2100, setting the standard for the modern network camera
Another major milestone was the introduction of the world’s most popular network camera at that time, the AXIS 2100, which held the top spot for five consecutive years. This camera was the first to use our own-label video chip (ARTPEC-1) as well as utilizing the Linux operating system for imbedded products, which set a standard on how network products were to be designed.

In order to drive the sales of networked video we also established the industry’s first partner program in the year of 2000.

The AXIS 2130 PTZ Network Camera with its pan, tilt and zoom functions, enabled wide area coverage and great details which took surveillance to a new level. It was developed together with Axis and Canon where Canon provided the mechanics and Axis did the video encoder using the ARTPEC chip. This was also the first year we saw serious competitors doing network cameras, something that made the technology legitimate and analyzed by industry specialists.

2002-2010 – A time of innovation
By 2002, we had successfully transformed from a connectivity specialist into the global number one in the network video market. We combined our know-how for developing core technologies and products, with an open-standards approach, a strong business model and key partnerships.

In 2004, we launched our Axis partner program; introduced the first network camera equipped with Power over Ethernet (PoE) and MPEG-4 compression; and launched the first HDTV resolution network camera.

2010 - 2014 – Global acclaim
In 2010 came another Axis world-first – thermal network cameras. And, in 2011, we launched the revolutionary Lightfinder camera – the world’s most light sensitive camera that was able to see colors, even at night. It received the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award in 2012. A year later, we went back to our roots and started a new wave of attaching intelligent devices to the Internet. The first such product was the AXIS A1001 where we entered the physical access control market. With this, we saw the opportunities in enabling more markets with networked technology. This we call the Internet of Security Things.

2015 onwards
In February 2015, Canon Inc. announced a public offer to acquire all outstanding Axis shares. Canon is today the majority owner. As a part of the Canon group, we are run as a separate entity and are continuing to deliver high value to customers through our global partner network.

Today, we’re focusing on a new wave of innovation. We’re continuously making advances in camera technology such as light sensitivity, dynamics, color reproduction and resolution in our network cameras. Beyond that, we’re also successfully moving into new markets that we call the Internet of Things, such as access control, network horn speakers and IP Video Doorstations. We’re driven by our vision to come up with new, innovative, smart solutions that meet user needs – and we’ll expand our portfolio to keep achieving that. 

Martin Gren

Mikael Karlsson