John W. Wittwer was one of the founders of ALPNET, a developer of language translation software tools when it was formed in 1980 under the name Automated Language Processing Systems (ALPS).
From its roots, ALPNET has been an innovator in the development of computer-based tools to make human translators more efficient and consistent in producing product materials and documentation ranging from sales and marketing materials to large-volume technical manuals.A key goal in the company's software development plan was that its product allow human translators to interact with the software to accomplish high-quality translation rather than having humans have to "clean up" after machine translation done by the computer.
The company has endured several financial and operational obstacles. An international manufacturer and marketer of computer hardware was a marketing partner to ALPNET, then withdrew from the relationship, breaking its contract and shifting the burden for marketing and sales back to ALPNET.
In 1987, the company was launching a major international expansion with a large brokerage firm raising funds when the "Black Monday" stock market collapse on Oct. 19 wiped out potential investors.
ALPNET today lays claim to being the largest publicly owned dedicated supplier of worldwide translation and product localization services with approximately 500 employees and thousands of freelance translators working in countries throughout Europe, North America and Asia. ALPNET has overseas offices in China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Revenue in the United States, which is under Wittwer's direct control, is expected to exceed $11 million this year. Worldwide revenue for 1987 was $40.8 million, with a company goal of $100 million by 2000.