James Bessen is recognized as an innovator in the electronic publishing industry, having developed one of the first commercially-successful desktop publishing programs. As an economics researcher, a former software developer and CEO, he brings a unique perspective to the study of innovation.
Bessen wrote the first WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) PC publishing software in 1983 and founded a company, Bestinfo, in 1984 to market desktop publishing solutions to commercial publishers. Over the next few years, Bestinfo developed the first system to support PC publishing networks and the first single-source system for commercial-quality page makeup and color imaging. Over 1,000 commercial publishers purchased Bestinfo systems ranging from the Sears Catalogue to TV Guide. In 1986 Bestinfo received funding from Sevin Rosen Venture Capital and in 1993 it was acquired by Intergraph.
Bessen is currently Lecturer in Law at Boston University School of Law where he does research on the economics of technological innovation, including patents and Free/Open Source Software. His research on software patents with Eric Maskin (Nobel Laureate in Economics) and Robert Hunt has been influential in European policy deliberations. He is the author (along with Michael J. Meurer) of Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk (Princeton 2008).
A.B., Harvard College, 1972