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Industry Software
Founded 1986 (1986)
Headquarters 201 E. Pittsburgh Ave., Ste. 400, Milwaukee, WI, U.S.
Area served
Number of employees

PKWARE, Inc. is an enterprise software company founded in 1986, by Phil Katz, co-inventor of the ZIP standard. PKWARE provides encryption and data compression software used by thousands of organizations in banking, financial services, healthcare and government. Its ZIP innovations were a rallying point for early online bulletin board system and shareware communities.


Year Event
1985 Phil Katz starts distributing the PKXARC utility.
1986 PKWARE is founded by Phil Katz.
1988 Lawsuit from SEA over distribution of the PKARC utility.
1989 PKWARE stops distributing PKARC.

.ZIP file format is introduced, first PKZIP version is released.

2000 Phil Katz dies.[1]
2001 New management team, led by George Haddix and backed by investment-banking firm Grace Matthews, purchase PKWARE.[2]
2002 PKWARE Partners with RSA Security, Inc.[3]

PKWARE acquires Ascent Solutions.[4]

Awarded PC Magazine's Editors' Choice for data compression software.[5]

2004 SecureZIP is released for Windows Desktop, Windows Server, UNIX, and Linux.[6]
2005 SecureZIP extends to midrange and mainframe platforms.[7]
2006 SecureZIP PartnerLink is released.[8]
2009 Novacap Technologies and Maranon Capital, in partnership with management, acquire PKWARE.[9]

PKWARE names new CEO, V. Miller Newton.[10]


Phil Katz was granted a patent in September, 1991, for his efficient search functions used in the PKZIP compression process.[11] In 2001 and 2005, PKWARE was awarded patents for patching technology used within PKZIP products.[12] In 2005, PKWARE was awarded a patent for methods used to manage .ZIP files within the Windows file manager and Outlook.[13] In total PKWARE holds four patents, has over fourteen pending patents and is referenced in over eighty patents.[14]


.ZIP App Note[edit]

PKWARE publishes an Application Note on the .ZIP file format.[15] This Application Note ensures continued interoperability of the .ZIP file format for all users, The APPNOTE provides developers a general description and technical details of the .ZIP file storage specification.

ZIP Reader[edit]

ZIP Reader is a free Windows utility.[16] Any ZIP file can be opened with the reader program, regardless of where it was created. To open an archive, the user can drag and drop the desired zip file over the program and it will extract. A second method is to simply select which file to extract from within the utility. An email address is required to download ZIP Reader from the PKWARE website.[16]

PKARC and PKPAK[edit]

PKPAK (formerly known as PKARC) is a software utility for MS-DOS systems that allows the compression (and decompression using the PKXARC/PKUNPAK utilities) of multiple files into the ARC file format.


PKZIP is a software utility that allows for the compression/decompression of multiple files and folders into a single archive.[17] The name PKZIP comes from a combination of Phil Katz, the inventor, and ZIP, for the ZIP file format.[17] Katz co-created the ZIP file format after a legal dispute with Software Enhancement Associates (SEA) over their ARC archiver. PKZIP was a faster alternative than ARC and was quickly adopted.

Originally, PKZIP was written as shareware for DOS.[17] Since its creation, PKWARE has expanded support of PKZIP to Windows Desktop, Windows Server, UNIX, Linux, IBM i, and zSeries platforms. A zip archive can be transferred among any of these platforms when creating and extracting with PKZIP.

New versions of PKZIP added strong encryption algorithms to accommodate security needs.


SecureZIP was released in 2004, by PKWARE as an extension of PKZIP. SecureZIP contained the same compression and passphrase protection as PKZIP but also introduced digital signature authentication and digital certificate-based encryption.[6]

For a brief period of time, PKWARE offered SecureZIP Express, a free version of SecureZIP available only on Windows Desktop, for non-commercial use. SecureZIP Express came with the option of receiving a Comodo digital certificate, good for one year. PKWARE discontinued SecureZIP Express at the end of 2009. Comodo certificates are still available with purchased copies of SecureZIP.

SecureZIP uses a contingency key in its Enterprise version of the software. This key is essentially a master key. Contingency keys are necessary for audit review, or in the case of lost or stolen passphrases.[18] The contingency key is assigned to a trusted user in the organization. That key is then used with every encrypted file as part of the natural work flow.[18]

SecureZIP PartnerLink[edit]

In 2006, the company released a new product called PartnerLink.[8] As an extension of SecureZIP, PKWARE customers could become "sponsors" and provide an unlimited number of SecureZIP Partner utilities to the organization's business partners. This new licensing structure guaranteed secure exchange between business partners. The SecureZIP Partner software provided to customers can only be used to communicate with its sponsoring organization. Like PKZIP and SecureZIP, PartnerLink is available on all major computing platforms.[8]

SecureZIP for DLP[edit]

Recognizing the importance of protecting the privacy of sensitive data at rest discovered by automated Data Loss Prevention (DLP) inspection, PKWARE announced SecureZIP for DLP in September, 2011.[19]

SecureZIP OpenPGP Support[edit]

Seeking to address a broader range of data encryption needs, PKWARE expanded the scope of SecureZIP to include support for OpenPGP key pairs and file encryption format with the release of SecureZIP v14, beginning in November, 2011.[20]

SecureZIP Reader for Mobility[edit]

PKWARE enterprise customers using SecureZIP on other platforms encouraged the company to extend support to the increasingly common and increasingly important mobile devices used by employees, particularly tablets. The company quickly moved forward to provide SecureZIP Reader for i OS [21] and for Android [22] in 2012.


Expanding its security offerings further into cloud computing environments like Dropbox, PKWARE introduced Viivo in spring 2012. Viivo was developed outside of the traditional PKWARE team and methods in an effort toward "disruptive innovation" in the emerging cloud security market.


  1. ^ "Famed software pioneer dies at 37". Journal Sentinel. 2000-04-22. Retrieved 2013-10-20. Phillip W. Katz, the eccentric inventor of computer file-compression software used around the world, and a pioneer in the concept of shareware, is dead at age 37. The cause of death was complications from chronic alcoholism, according to medical examiner's records. Katz came onto the computer scene when communication was expensive and slow. His program, PKZip, played a large role in making Internet communication faster, said a University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee computer science... [dead link]
  2. ^ Gertzen, Jason. "Management team purchases PKWARE: Brown Deer firm leads in data compression." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 16 March 2001
  3. ^ "RSA - Information Security, Governance, Risk, and Compliance - EMC". 
  4. ^ "PKWARE Acquires Ascent Solutions, Inc.". Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ "PC Magazines' Editors' Choice Award: PKZip 4.5". PCMAG. 
  6. ^ a b "SecureZIP". 
  7. ^ "SecureZIP for iSeries Now Available from PKWARE". 12 April 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  8. ^ Kathleen Gallagher. "Milwaukee-based PKWare changes hands". 
  9. ^ Kathleen Gallagher. "CEO's move to PKWare based on location". 
  10. ^ Patent 5,051,745
  11. ^ Patent 6,289,509 and Patent 6,952,823
  12. ^ Patent 6,879,988
  13. ^ Patent Search
  14. ^ "Vagas de Emprego Sync2it -". Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  15. ^ a b "Free Zip Reader". 
  16. ^ a b c "What is PKZIP (or PKZip)? - Definition from". 
  17. ^ a b "Contingency Access to Encrypted Data - IT & Security Portal". 
  18. ^ "PKWARE Introduces SecureZIP for DLP Software". 
  19. ^ "PKWARE Extends Data Security Software to Support OpenPGP" (PDF). 
  20. ^ "SecureZIP for iOS targets employee side of BYOD". 
  21. ^ "PKWARE Offers First Enterprise-level Security App on Google Play" (PDF). 

External links[edit]