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A Look Back – Paragon Application Systems at 30

It is hard to believe that we started on the Paragon journey 30 years ago. Three decades of growth, innovation, and, most importantly, relationships, have shaped our company into what it is today. 

Certainly, there have been challenges, but our people – and our customers – have been the key to our success. We want to thank all our many clients that have allowed us to serve them through the years, as well as all the staff that have been a part of the journey with us.

In this two-part blog series, we are going to look back at our story (including the successes and challenges along the way) and look forward to our recent successes and where the industry is headed. 

You can find the second part of this blog series by clicking the link below:

How Paragon Application Systems Was Born

The year was 1994 and the demand for ATM’s was just starting to explode. Despite their introduction in the late 1960’s, large numbers of increasingly active and mobile consumers were just catching on to the opportunity and convenience that ATMs provide.

Mark Medlin, Bob Collins, Gary Kirk and Peter Sturgess, were all engineers working for SDM, a company in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina that developed a suite of electronic payments software for IBM mainframe systems.

The guys were actively traveling the globe installing the host software and helping customers set-up and configure their ATMs, as well as getting them connected to external networks. Our intrepid travelers recognized a need to improve on the rudimentary tools that were available for configuring ATMs and testing ATM networks at that time. 

The lack of effective tooling meant that the ATMs and networks were difficult to re-configure and test in a rapidly evolving environment. As fate would have it, another technology was blossoming that would contribute to effective tooling. The PC was becoming a ubiquitous feature on every business desktop.

An Opportunity to Improve Industry Efficiency 

Gary eventually shared his vision to start a new “Tool Company” to support electronic payment processing. Agreeing to join Gary in this effort, the team challenged themselves to use innovative technologies to develop a better way to install, deploy and manage these complex financial systems. At the same time, they were committed to building long term relationships, providing exceptional customer service, and delivering superior value.

Paragon Application System was officially formed in February 1994 (and is still led today by two of the original founders). The first year was spent working consulting gigs in shops that had IBM transaction processing systems. In between these assignments, as well as on nights and weekends, the team worked to develop their first product (ConfigBuilder). The local Burger King became their usual meeting place until they could rent their first office space.

Within a few years, Paragon offered a robust suite of tools for ATM and payment systems developers.  The suite, WorkSmart ATM Test Suite, consisted of ConfigBuilder, ATMulator, FASTest, FASTress and AUF.

Paragon Application Systems Today

Now celebrating our 30th year, Paragon has continued to grow and expand across the globe by nurturing lasting relationships, delivering the highest levels of customer service, and creating long-term value for our clients.

From humble beginnings, we have been able to support the payment industry through some significant changes:

  • Y2K
  • EMV and EMV Contactless
  • Apple PAY (and the other “Pays”)
  • The CARD ACT and the Durbin Amendment
  • The explosive growth of debit cards and e-commerce
  • The move to cloud computing
  • COVID-19

In the second part of this blog series, A Look Forward – Paragon Application Systems at 30, we will look back on some of the key factors behind our success over the last 30 years as well as look to the future. 

Interested in learning more about what we do here at Paragon Application Systems, and how we can help your organization implement more efficient and cost-effective testing processes? Contact our team today. 

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