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Alan C. Ashton's Geni Profile

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Alan C. Ashton

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Conway Alan Ashton and Emma Riggs McKay

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Alan C. Ashton

Alan C. Ashton (born 1942) is the co-founder of WordPerfect Corporation and a former professor at Brigham Young University. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and a grandson of former LDS Church president David O. McKay.


Ashton began his work in computer science in the University of Utah, studying computing and music in the early 1970s. In 1977 Ashton began work on word processing when he created a spec for an improved console-based word processor. His spec outlined various innovations at the time, including continuous documents, function key shortcuts, modeless editing, and primitive WYSIWYG formatting. Along with Bruce Bastian, his student, Ashton incorporated Satellite Software International, which would later become WordPerfect Corporation, in September 1979. In 1987, Ashton left BYU to serve full-time as president and CEO of WordPerfect Corporation.

Ashton ran WordPerfect as a triumvirate, along with Bastian and W.E. (“Pete”) Peterson. Ashton and Bastian each controlled 49.5% of the company, and Peterson controlled 1%. While Ashton was the titular head of WordPerfect, Peterson ran the day-to-day operations, and was frequently misinterpreted as the head of the company by the press. Ashton's management style was hands-off. At one point, the entire development organization of WordPerfect reported directly to him.

In 1990 Ashton was identified by Forbes magazine as one of the 400 wealthiest individuals in the U.S.

Ashton joined the Novell Corporation Board of Directors in 1994, and resigned in 1996.

Ashton is unrelated to Ashton-Tate, a database company and contemporary of WordPerfect in the 1980s. Ashton is the grandson of late LDS Church president David O. McKay. Ashton served as a Mormon missionary in Central Germany as a young man. Ashton is an Eagle Scout and was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award through Boy Scouts of America's Utah National Parks Council in 1993.

In April 1999, Ashton founded ASH Capital, a venture investment company controlled by Ashton and managed by James Savas and David Harkness.

Thanksgiving Point

After WordPerfect was acquired by Novell and Ashton’s responsibilities were alleviated, he and his wife founded Thanksgiving Point. Thanksgiving Point is located in Lehi, Utah, within 20 miles of WordPerfect’s former corporate headquarters in Orem.

“We wanted to create something for the people around us," says Ashton. "We've been blessed financially and with a large family. We wanted to give something back to the community and the families in our area.”

Today, Thanksgiving Point provides the community with a place where adults and children can learn about farming, gardening and cooking. It also has a championship caliber golf course, a museum of ancient life and a movie theater.

Mission President

Ashton served as a mission president for LDS Church in western Ontario from July 2004 through June 2007

California Prop 8

The California Proposition 8 campaign announced that a US$1 million donation to support Proposition 8 was given by Ashton. The donation was reported by the Prop 8 campaign on October 28, 2008. Ashton's former business partner, Bruce Bastian, who is openly gay, gave $1 million to oppose Proposition 8.

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Alan C. Ashton's Timeline

May 7, 1942
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States