How Stat-Ease developed into a world-class provider of DOE software

The history of Stat-Ease begins in the 1970s when its original principals—Pat Whitcomb, Tryg Helseth and Mark Anderson—mastered design of experiments (DOE) while working for General Mills Chemical Division’s Process Development group.

Young Pat

Young Mark

Young Tryg

When IBM came out with its first PC in 1981, Pat recognized an opportunity to make DOE easy for non-statisticians via a menu-driven computer program, which he named “Design-Ease” (DE). Pat then established “Stat-Ease” with the intriguing slogan “Statistics Made Easy” (an oxymoron?). After several years of gestation, DE took off in 1987 when touted as “incredibly easy to use” in a widely read Journal of Quality Technology review on “Tools for Computer-Aided Experiments.” With profits now rolling in, Stat-Ease could afford to bring Tryg on as a full-time programmer and hire Mark as the business manager.

In 1988, the company released its first version of Design-Expert (DX), which provided response surface methods (RSM) for process optimization. This new program complemented DE and its capability for screening main effects and characterization of interactions. DX also provided mixture designs for optimizing formulations—a big attraction for users in the process industries. With this product-line extension, sales grew at a healthy rate, enabling the addition of many new employees to handle orders, provide statistical help and program new features.

In 1996 Stat-Ease incorporated all the features of Design-Ease into Design-Expert version 5 and translated it to Windows. By then the company’s user base approached six figures. Their eagerness for a graphical user-interface led to a deluge of upgrades, the proceeds from which the three Principals reinvested into further expansion.

Being so easy to use, Stat-Ease software enabled computer-intensive workshops on DOE/RSM that their experts, Pat, Mark and one of their early hires—Shari Kraber—presented to 1000s of researchers throughout the years. Training remains a vital aspect for Stat-Ease helping users “make the most from every experiment.”

Appendix: Milestones for Stat-Ease, Inc.

  • 1982 Stat-Ease founded as a Minnesota company by Pat Whitcomb.
  • 1985 Stat-Ease becomes incorporated in June. First software released in July: Design-Ease 1.04 for DOS written in Turbo Pascal.
  • 1988 version 1.01 of Design-Expert ("DX") written in BASIC code debuts in March. Tryg and Mark join Pat as full-time employees.
  • 1989 2nd version of DX (version 2.00) released in October. This version is written in more efficient code (Pascal) and with greater capability. First full-time employee hired to do customer service.
  • 1991 DE2 released in June with more versatile regression-based algorithm for analysis.
  • 1992 DX3 released in October with 3D graphics and numerical optimization.
  • 1994 Million-Dollar Award presented to Stat-Ease by the Minnesota High Tech Association for Design-Ease software. DE3 released in June with graphical user-interface (GUI) for Windows (C++). DX4 for DOS released in April with stepwise regression and multicomponent constraints for mixtures.
  • 1995 Million-Dollar Award presented for Design-Expert software.
  • 1996 launched on Internet.
  • 1996 Forbes recommends Stat-Ease software for multivariable testing ("MVT").
  • 1997 V5 of DX combines DE4 and DX4 and converts to Windows, DE5 becomes a subset of DX.
  • 1997 DX made optional with Douglas Montgomery's 4th edition of Design and Analysis of Experiments published by John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.
  • 1998 Larntz and Whitcomb, “Use of Replication in Almost Unreplicated Factorials,” wins Shewell award at 42nd Annual Fall Technical Conference, Corning, NY.
  • 2000 Version 6 of DE and DX released.
  • 2000 Mark and Pat co-author first edition of DOE Simplified, Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation published by Productivity Press.
  • 2003 Stat-Ease Academy eLearning launched with first edition of “PreDOE: Basic Statistics for Experimenters.”
  • 2004 Mark and Pat co-author first edition of RSM Simplified, Optimizing Processes Using Response Surface Methods for Design of Experiments.
  • 2005 Version 7 of DX released, followed by DE7 shortly thereafter.
  • 2007 Versions 7.1 of DX and DE released (a major upgrade).
  • 2007 DOE Simplified, 2nd Edition published.
  • 2008 Oehlert and Whitcomb win the Shewell Award for their invention of the half-normal plot for graphically selecting effects from multilevel-categoric (general) factorials.
  • 2009 Version 8 of DX released, followed by DE8.
  • 2011 Whitcomb and Adams win the Shewell Award for best presentation at the 2010 Fall Technical Conference (FTC): “Practical Aspects of Algorithmic Design of Physical Experiments.”
  • 2013 Version 9 of DX and DE released, the first versions with Hank Anderson as Lead Developer.
  • 2015 DOE Simplified, 3rd Edition published.
  • 2016 Version 10 of DX and DE released.
  • 2016 RSM Simplified, 2nd Edition published.
  • 2018 Martin Bezener receives an Outstanding Presentation Award for his presentation at the 2017 Joint Statistical Meetings on “Strategies for Mixture-Design Space Augmentation.”
  • 2018 Mark, Pat, and Martin co-author first edition of Formulation Simplified, Finding the Sweet Spot Through Design and Analysis of Experiments with Mixtures.
  • 2018 Version 11 of DX released for both Window and Mac OS.
  • 2019 Version 12 of DX released.
  • 2020 Stat-Ease acquired by Vela Software. Martin named President and CTO, Hank the VP of Software Development and Cathy Hickman VP of Finance and Operations.
  • 2021 Version 13 of DX released and Stat-Ease 360 premiered.