Our History


1984: Back in those early computer days, statistics packages were used to perform tests and fit models. But they didn’t support exploration. It was hard to make a small correction in your data or your model and see the consequences. And hard to discover that errant case to correct.

We designed the original Data Desk as a data analysis companion that encouraged exploration, helped you discover both patterns and the points that didn’t fit. Graphical interfaces were new; the first Macintosh had just been released and the power of icons and drag-and-drop operation were just beginning to be understood. Data Desk adopted these innovations and presented a simple, natural way to work with data.

1985: We introduced the Data Desk BETA to the world at the 1985 MacWorld expo in Boston. Steve Jobs was impressed with our operating system with-in his operating system as he understood the speed we achieve with this programming method. It is an indication of the dedication of our users and stability of our programming that Data Desk is the only application shown at that MacWorld that is still actively supported and developed.

1986: Data Description was incorporated and started selling the first commercial version of Data Desk.


Today’s Data Desk is the natural descendent of that first innovative program. Of course, now we run on PC’s as well as Macs, offer full 64-bit operation, and are the fastest statistics program generally available.

Our latest release of Data Desk continues our track record of innovation and consistency. New interface options make Data Desk even easier to learn to use. New capabilities include such innovations as a command to search the internet for information about any data case based on its identity.

Throughout our history as a company, we have always provided free customer support, a consistent (if ever-expanding) user experience, and documentation that teaches modern data analysis practice and not simply what a command does.
Paul Velleman, Chairman, Chief Scientist, and Founder of Data Description

Our Team

Paul F. Velleman, Ph.D. Founder

Paul is the chairman, chief scientist, and founder of Data Description and an Associate Professor of Statistical Sciences at Cornell University. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Paul has published numerous books and articles on modern data analysis methods, graphical data analysis methods, and statistical computing. He is the designer of Data Desk and the principal pedagogy designer and author of ActivStats, for which he won the 1997 ICTCM Award for Contributions to Mathematics Teaching through Technology and the 1998 EDUCOM Medal.

John C. Sammis President

John is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Data Description. He combines a B.S. in Engineering from Clarkson University with an M.B.A. from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. John has spent over 30 years in the technology industry and has extensive experience in predictive modeling and analytics, project management, product marketing, software design and cash flow management.