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Today marks the 20th birthday of Analyse-it.
It was December 1997 when we shipped the first disks containing Analyse-it to paying customers. In some ways it seems just like yesterday, but in other respects software development and Analyse-it has come so far in those 20-years.
As many of you know Analyse-it wasn’t our first foray into developing statistical software. My co-founder in Analyse-it, Simon Huntington, had previously developed Astute in 1992 from a spark of an idea from Dr Rick Jones. Astute was the first statistical add-in for Microsoft Excel, initially released in 1992 for Excel 4.0, and released a few months before Microsoft’s Data Analysis Toolpak which appeared in Excel 5.0.
We started developing Analyse-it in 1996. Astute was no longer available and so we started work on developing a replacement. We were just a start-up business, keen to get our first product to market and so worked 16 hour days, 6 days a week, for 18 months to build that first release of Analyse-it.
Software development back then was pretty brutal. It had improved leaps and bounds since the 1980s, when we started developing software, but it was still time-consuming and sheer hard (mental) work. The software development tools were relatively basic and computing power was a fraction of what it is today. We initially developed Analyse-it in C++, the only commercially-viable programming language back then, and although a very flexible programming language it was very easy to produce bug-ridden and hard-to-maintain software. Each addition or change to the software code during development took 5-10 minutes to compile before the software could be run (or tested) to see the results. Not quite as slow as the mainframe era, but in an iterative process such as software development it was still tediously slow. Compilation often failed, due to typos in the source code, which then needed to be corrected and compilation restarted. Finally when we had an executable we could then start debugging and testing it. Windows 95 was the operating system of choice, but wasn’t the most resilient. It was easy to crash Windows resulting in a reboot, reload of the software development tools, and so on. Another 15 minutes gone.
Back then, the latest release of Excel was Microsoft Excel 95, which was basically Excel 5 with a new user interface and support for 32-bit processors. More than half of our users at that time were still using Excel 5, Windows 3.1 and 16-bit processors, so we had to support both processor architectures. We used Microsoft Visual C++ on Windows 95 and Borland C++ on Windows 3.1 to develop the 32- and 16-bit versions. Constantly switching between compilers, testing on different versions of Excel and different operating systems took more time – 3-4 months in fact to convert Analyse-it from a 32-bit only to a 32-bit and 16-bit application! In comparison, it recently took just over a day to make the latest versions of Analyse-it support both 32-bit and 64-bit processors!
Finally by October 1997 we had a saleable product. We had placed an advertisement in The Biochemist magazine a couple of months before and already had a backlog of orders. We had also launched the analyse-it.com web-site, a very basic web-site by today’s standards, but (believe it or not!) relatively modern for the time. Most users back then had VGA resolution screens, which were very small, 640x512 pixels, supporting only up to 256 colors. The web-site design now looks ridiculously tiny (see below), but that was all the space available on the screen without scrolling. In other ways it was quite revolutionary – we offered a free downloadable trial of Analyse-it, almost unheard-of back then. In those days you called a company on the telephone, spoke with a salesman, and maybe, if they considered you a reasonable prospect, they would post a disk through the post for a trial. Analyse-it was available for download directly from our web-site (albeit over a slow dial-up internet connection for most people), with no strings attached, pretty much as it still is today.
A screenshot of the first analyse-it.com web-site back in 1998
We finally sent out the first batch of orders for Analyse-it on the 21st December 1997. Delivery was by post and on a single 3.5” disk. We used a few compression algorithms to get the software to fit onto a single disk, making postage cheaper and saving costs – important factors back then as a start-up!
Feedback to the product was amazing. Customers raved about the product, on the telephone and by e-mail, and we received so much great feedback that the product went from strength to strength to what it is today. From those humble beginnings, we’re now approaching more than 40,000 users of Analyse-it and nearing version 5.0. Development is now much quicker due to modern software development tools and we’re able to add new features much more quickly. We’ve developed custom software solutions for the CLSI and other large companies based the reputation we've built over the last 20-years. And most of our sales still come from word of mouth – from happy customers.
Here’s to the next 20 years!
We are delighted to announce the addition of the Analyse-it Quality Control and Improvement Edition to the range of Analyse-it products.
The new edition includes the most impressive statistical process control (SPC) charts available in any Excel statistical software package, including Shewhart, Levey-Jennings, CUSUM, and EWMA charts. Process capability statistics and plots help you ensure a process is able to meet specifications. And Pareto plots help you identify the quality-related problems that need the most attention and let you monitor efforts to reduce them.
A critical feature of any analytical and statistical software is accuracy. You are making decisions based on the statistics obtained and you need to know you can rely on them.
We have documented our previously, but another good benchmark to test statistical software against is the NIST StRD. The Statistical Engineering and Mathematical and Computational Sciences Divisions of NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory developed datasets with certified values for a variety of statistical methods against which statistical software packages can be benchmarked. The certified values are computed using ultra-high precision floating point arithmetic and are accurate to 15 significant digits.
Probably the greatest concern when using statistical software is reliability. Is the software producing accurate, numerically correct results that have been validated?
It’s a very important question. Many of you work in FDA and regulated environments where the penalties for mistakes are very high. And those of you outside such environments are still making important business and research decisions using Analyse-it. It’s therefore imperative that the software you depend upon is developed to a professional standard, thoroughly tested and validated.
Leeds, England (PRWEB) October 03, 2012 -- Analyse-it Software, Ltd. today announced a major new release of their popular , Analyse-it®. With support for Excel 2007, 2010 and the forthcoming Excel 2013, Analyse-it transforms Microsoft Excel into a cost-effective powerful statistical analysis and data visualization package. Statistics and plots are included for exploring and describing data, estimating parameters, testing hypotheses, uncovering relationships and fitting models.
The British government recently announced a 2.5% reduction in VAT (sales tax) on goods purchased from the United Kingdom (see ). UK VAT was previously 17.5%, but from the 1st December 2008 until the end of 2009 it has been reduced to 15%.
Like many businesses, last Monday, we implemented the change.
Customers in the United Kingdom who aren’t VAT exempt, and those of you in Europe who are not VAT registered and must pay VAT, will now pay only 15% VAT.
We’re pleased to announce that from today we can accept payment in EUROs. You can now see prices for Analyse-it in EUROs, as well as British Pounds sterling, and US dollars (for customers in the USA & Canada).
The EURO is now the primary currency in Europe and many of our customers have asked us to accept EUROs. We can accept payment in EUROs by VISA, MasterCard or AMEX credit card, or by cheque or wire-transfer.
Depending on where you’re located, the way we spell “Analyse-it” may intrigue you. We chose the name in 1997 as it sounded active, a direction to analyse it! – similar to many product names of the time.
The name has served us well and hints as to what our business and product offers.
At the time we didn’t think such a simple name would cause so many headaches. Before you wonder, Analyse-it doesn’t mean anything offensive in other languages, but it can be spelt different ways:
Thanks for stopping-by to read the inaugural post to the Analyse-it blog.
We’ve launched the to keep you up-to-date on what’s new at Analyse-it, what we’re working on, and to notify you when updates and new products are released. We’ll also blog about using Analyse-it, statistical analysis, and interpretation.
The best part about the blog is it’s a conversation -- a conversation between you, our visitors and customers, and us. After reading a post you can add your thoughts, suggestions, and comments. We’ll reply when necessary or other visitors can post their opinions to ignite the debate. Click the links at the end of each post to read comments or add your own.