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The Xara Group, Ltd.
Founded 25 July 1981 (1981-07-25)[1]
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people
Charles Moir (founder)[2]
Website www.xara.com

Xara is a UK-based software company founded in 1981. It has developed software for a variety of computer platforms, in chronological order: the Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, Z88, Atari ST, Acorn Archimedes, Microsoft Windows and Linux. It was originally called Computer Concepts, Ltd.; the company name was changed in 1995 to Xara, Ltd. and later to The Xara Group, Ltd. On 30 January 2007, Xara was acquired by German company MAGIX AG, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary.[3]


The company was founded in 1981 by Charles Moir. It started by developing for various 8-bit systems, such as the Acorn Atom and BBC Micro.[2]

Atart ST and Acorn Archimedes development[edit]

In 1986, it released its first piece of software for the next generation of computers, Fast ASM for the Atari ST. Development was focused on software for the Acorn Archimedes when it was released in 1987. ArtWorks, the predecessor to Xara Xtreme, was released on the Archimedes.[2]

Xara Networks[edit]

In 1995, a subsidiary company called Xara Networks, Ltd. was formed, specializing in the provision of high-bandwidth Internet connectivity to companies and ISPs. Xara Networks was subsequently sold to the ITG group in London, most commonly known for the Global Internet brand, and was subsequently renamed GX Networks.[4]

Move to Windows[edit]

Early in the 1990s Xara began developing for Microsoft Windows 95, as Acorn Computers struggled for market share. Artworks was rewritten from the ground up for the platform and in 1994 it was released as Xara Studio. This involved a team of 20+ developers, who worked for more than two years to produce a competitor to then market-leading drawing software CorelDRAW.[citation needed]

The Canadian company Corel brought the marketing rights to the software and re-branded it as CorelXARA. Corel marketed it as a web-oriented companion to CorelDRAW, but it was clearly designed as a stand-alone alternative to the older software.[citation needed] The arrangement with Corel ended after five years.[2]

In 2000, Xara released the software themselves as Xara X, which was superseded by Xara X¹ in 2004, and then Xara Xtreme in 2005. In 2006, a enhanced version was released, named Xara Xtreme Pro. Xara Xtreme Pro was renamed Xara Designer Pro.[citation needed]

Xara Designer Pro development continued and Xara 3D was released. These titles were the predecessors to Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and 'Xara 3D Maker.[2]

Sale to MAGIX AG[edit]

On 30 January 2007, Xara was acquired by German company MAGIX AG, and now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary.[3]

The software house continued development of its range of products, releasing Xara Web Designer in 2009 and Xara Page & Layout Designer in 2013.[2]


Since 1984, the company has been headquartered in Gaddesden Place, Hemel Hempstead, an 18th-century Palladian style villa, designed by the celebrated architect James Wyatt, built in 1768 and reputed to be his first building in the UK.

List of products by platform[edit]

BBC Micro[edit]

  • AC Mizal Ultraman
  • Wordwise - a ROM based word processor
  • Disc Doctor - utility software
  • Graphics ROM - graphics utilities
  • SpellMaster - a ROM-based spell checker. Believed to be the world's first check-as-you-type spell checker
  • Inter-Word, Inter-Sheet, Inter-Chart, Inter-Base - a suite of ROM based productivity applications

Atari ST[edit]

  • Fast ASM (1986) - 68000 assembler
  • Fast BASIC - a ROM-based, BBC Basic-like semi-compiled Basic language

Acorn Archimedes / Risc OS[edit]

The company also developed a range of hardware for the Acorn Archimedes including:

  • ColourCard - graphics card - the first to produce 24bpp video for the Acorn[citation needed]
  • ScanLight - a range of hand-held and flatbed scanners and software
  • LaserDirect - a range of laser printers. The company developed the world's first 600dpi that retailed under £1000 (it purchased printer engines from Canon Inc, and using its own drivers and laser modulation techniques (hardware and software) was able to increase the resolution to 600dpi.[citation needed]


  • Xara Studio (1994)
  • CorelXARA (1996)
  • Xara X (2000)
  • Xara X¹ (2004)
  • Xara Xtreme (2005)
  • Xara Xtreme Pro
  • Xara Designer Pro
  • Xara 3D
  • Xara Web Designer (2009) - WYSIWYG web design program.
  • Xara Page & Layout Designer - combines page layout, word processor and image editing capabilities.
  • Xara 3D Maker - creates 3D text, graphics and animations such as headings, logos, titles and buttons.
  • Xara Photo & Graphic Designer (2010)
  • Xara Page & Layout Designer(2013)

Linux and Mac OS X[edit]


  1. ^ Goodwins, Rupert (25 July 2006). "Rupert Goodwins' Diary; Tuesday 25/07/2006". ZDNet. Retrieved 15 December 2011. Congratulations to Xara on 25 years of business. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Xara Group History - Xara.com, accessed on January 15, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "German group buys Xara". 
  4. ^ About Xara Group
  5. ^ http://www.mw-software.com/
  6. ^ Xara Xtreme for Linux
  7. ^ https://github.com/Neonking/XaraVG-lib

External links[edit]