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The External Brain: Evernote and Remembering Everything

October 28, 2011

Everyone who does work, from a creative genius to a menial business taskmaster, requires the ability to take notes to remember things that often are able to easily slip peoples’ minds. It’s rarely possible to remember everything one needs to remember and there is an entire industry organized around productivity and list-making. This includes conferences in organizational preparedness, day planners, calendars, computer applications and smartphone apps, all manner of websites, personal strategists and even consulting firms to advise large corporations how to best organize their employees. One of the stand-outs of the productivity industry is Evernote, produced by the Evernote Corporation.

EvernoteThe founder of Evernote, Stepan Pachikov, has been involved with software for a long time. In the early 1990s, still living in Moscow while working for ParaGraph Intl., he pioneered the handwriting recognition software used in the Apple Newton and which is now standard in tablet computers. In 1992, Pachikov opened an office of ParaGraph in Silicon Valley, CA where he continued working on handwriting recognition software through ParaGraph’s acquisition by Silicon Graphics where he served as Vice-President of the Pen & Internet division. Pachikov leveraged this experience towards the writing-recognition technology employed by Evernote in cataloging receipts, hand-written notes and other documents to be indexed by its software. To date, Evernote has raised almost $100 million in venture funding.

The CEO of Evernote, Phil Lebin (himself a Russian ex-pat as well) says that Evernote strives to be an “external brain” by which he means a coordination of all of the tasks and memories that people use to maintain order in their lives. Evernote has a number of competitors, but is currently one of the most popular note-taking applications because of its ability to sync across multiple devices. Evernote is available on every major computer operating system and every popular (and several unpopular) smartphone and tablet operating systems. As of June, 2011, Evernote had acquired more than 11 million users. Evernote has both paid and free versions, although many of its users pay the $5/month for expanded storage and document-indexing capabilities.

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