SYSTRAN, founded by Dr. Peter Toma in 1968, is one of the oldest machine translation companies. SYSTRAN has done extensive work for the United States Department of Defense and the European Commission.
SYSTRAN provides the technology for Yahoo! Babel Fish among others. It was used by Google's language tools until circa 2007.
SYSTRAN is used by the Dashboard Translation widget in Mac OS X.
Commercial versions of SYSTRAN can run on Microsoft Windows (including Windows Mobile), Linux, and Solaris.
As of 2008, the company had 59 employees of whom 26 are computational experts and 15 computational linguists. The number of employees decreased from 70 in 2006 to 65 in 2007.
With its origin in the Georgetown machine translation effort, SYSTRAN was one of the few machine translation systems to survive the major decrease of funding after the ALPAC Report of the mid-1960s. The company was established in La Jolla in California to work on translation of Russian to English text for the United States Air Force during the Cold War. Large numbers of Russian scientific and technical documents were translated using SYSTRAN under the auspices of the USAF Foreign Technology Division (later the National Air and Space Intelligence Center) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The quality of the translations, although only approximate, was usually adequate for understanding content.
The company was sold in 1986 to the Gachot family, based in Paris, and is now traded publicly by the French stock exchange. It has a main office at the Grande Arche at La Défense and maintains a secondary office in La Jolla.
During the dot-com boom, language industry started a new era, and SYSTRAN entered into agreements with a number of translation integrators, the most successful of these being WorldLingo.
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