Axis Communications was formally founded in 1984 by Mikael Karlsson, Martin Gren and Keith Bloodworth. The previous year, Martin Gren and Mikael Karlsson established the company Gren & Karlsson Firmware offering consultancy services to the Swedish IT industry.
In 1984 they met Keith Bloodworth and the three entrepreneurs founded Axis. With its technology base and business concept of always selling indirectly via a two-tiered model in place, Axis was able to broaden its operations in the early 1990’s to cover print servers and TCP/IP protocol in local area networks. By 1987 Axis was exporting 95% of its production and the company rapidly expanded to become the second largest global player, first in IBM print connectivity and later in Network printing.
Ever since 1984, Axis has stuck firmly to the same business concept. This has made Axis the global leader in network cameras and video encoders. Today, Axis is driving network video development and sales and is providing a variety of network video products to the market, facilitating a smooth transition from analog to digital solutions.
Milestones in the history of Axis Communications
1984 - 1990 IBM Mainframe and minicomputer print servers
The first product was a print server that enabled connection of PC printers to IBM mainframe 3270 networks and later to AS/400 mini computers. With a European focus, Axis grew to become worldwide #2 in this industry despite being the last entrant to the market. This was achieved by having innovative products based on ASIC technology and a clear business model where the company was always loyal to its partners.
During this period, Axis opened its first subsidiary located outside of Boston in the US. Axis remained in the IBM connectivity business until it finished in 2004 but by then the company had already changed product areas several times.
1990 - 1995 A leader in networking technology for printers
When the internet was emerging, Axis was a pioneer in network connectivity using the internet TCP/IP protocol and recognized that this was going to be used on a broader scale in networks. With a focus on TCP/IP printing and later multi-protocol print servers - another Axis industry first - the company grew at a rapid pace. During the period, Axis released its first ETRAX chip. Offices were established in Asia where the company was now focused. Axis also became #2 in this industry and the company is still known for its reliable network printing technology.
1995 - 1998 Network access to everything
During this period, Axis began to focus on making networks smarter, enabling more and more hardware to be connected simply and economically to IP networks. The company also decided to only work with open standards and avoid proprietary protocols. For example, in 1995 the company successfully launched a network optical storage solution and became the world’s leading supplier in this category. The US business grew and sales offices were opened in Europe and elsewhere in Asia.
1996 The world’s first network camera
As the concept network access to everything accelerated, Axis launched the world’s first network camera, the AXIS 200. Developed by Martin Gren and Carl-Axel Alm, the camera featured an integrated web server, allowing video to be viewed remotely from any browser, regardless of its location. The camera was originally intended for remote monitoring.
The application of the product was quite limited at the time and it was not yet suited for traditional surveillance. However further development and the use of ASIC technology turned it into an industry changer by transforming the video surveillance industry from an analog business into a modern network structure. Equally important was Axis’ decision to retain its indirect sales model revolutionizing the way the CCTV industry operates.
1998 - 2002 The world’s first video encoder
Axis continued to extend IP connectivity to more types of hardware, such as the first video encoder (1998), which could be easily integrated into existing analog CCTV systems. Video encoders enable the extension of the life of an analogue camera and can easily be put into a network camera video system.
One major milestone was the introduction of the world’s most popular network camera, the AXIS 2100 Network Camera, which held the top spot for five consecutive years!
Investment in these areas and in geographical expansion was boosted by the company’s listing on the Stockholm Stock Exchange (2000).
2002 - 2012 The network video revolution
In 2002, the company saw the decline in network print servers and set the focus on network video where it had become the #1 supplier in the world due to many successful product launches, its business model and innovation. Axis became a global player during this period thanks to all its international offices and partners all over the world.
In 2003, Axis ceased production of network storage servers in response to weakening market demand for shared optical storage and a market not yet open for directly attached network storage. Instead the focus was on network video and network printing.
By this time, Axis had successfully transformed itself from a connectivity specialist into a world leader in network video. In the security market, Axis was driving the shift from analog to digital systems - a process which is still underway. Axis became the leader and reference in the network video market based on its know-how of developing core technologies and products for network connectivity combined with its strong sales channels and key partnerships.
In the early 2000s, Axis introduced a remarkable sequence of developments:
- 2002 - The Axis partner program was launched
- 2004 - Axis introduces the first network camera equipped with Power overEthernet and MPEG-4 compression (PoE)
- 2004 - The use of CMOS sensors, a light-sensitive component in digital cameras that have the same function as photographic film in analog cameras
- 2008 - The HDTV-resolution network camera
- 2008 - H.264 video image compression
- 2008 - SMTPE-compliant HDTV cameras
- 2010 - Worlds first network Thermal cameras
- 2010 - First Pan Tilt Zoom HDTV dome cameras
- 2011 - Axis' Lightfinder camera, the world’s most light sensitive cameras (received the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award for its Lightfinder technology, 2012)
- 2012 - Axis introduces AXIS Camera Companion, an entry-level IP video solution for small installations.
Axis entered the Physical Access Control market with the launch of AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller, the first non-proprietary and open IP-based access controller with built-in web-based software.
Physical access control complements Axis’ existing portfolio of innovative products and is a natural business development step to take as there is a strong connection between physical access control and video surveillance. Axis introduce the solution initially on the US market since the market is an early adopter of network video technology and is a huge market for physical access control.
During the year Axis founder Martin Gren received the Swedish Patriotic Society Business Medal for entrepreneurship and the Outstanding Contribution Award by IFSEC and Axis VP Global Sales Bodil Sonesson is awarded Woman of the Year by Women’s Security Council; and Axis is named a Best Place to Work by the Boston Business Journal.
... and beyond
Axis is the global market leader in network video, and continues to promote open standards and to drive the development of network video in the security market. Axis network video products and solutions are used in a wide variety of industries including retail, transportation, education, healthcare, government, industrial and banking & finance.
Today, Axis is leading the way to a smarter, safer and more secure world and the company has a worldwide presence, including sales offices in all continents. Axis is driving the industry by continually launching innovative network products based on an open platform - delivering high value to customers through a global partner network. Axis has long-term relationships with partners and provides them with knowledge and ground-breaking network products in existing and new markets.