Fischer, Addison

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Addison Fischer is considered by many to be a trailblazer in the computer security industry. He has founded and made major investments in several firms that specialize in authentication and encryption software. Up until 1996, Fischer served as a board member for RSA Data Security Inc., maker of the world's leading data encryption software. His current board seats include Surety Technologies and Xcert International. Fischer also is chairman of SmartDisk Corp., which he spun off in 1998 from Fischer International Systems Corp., a firm he founded in 1982. He continues to service as chairman of Fischer International.

After graduating from West Virginia University with both a B.S. and an M.S. in mathematics, Fischer began working on his Ph.D. As a college student, he worked for the university's computer center, where he gained his first experience with the development of mainframe computer security systems. Hooked by the seemingly limitless possibilities computer technology afforded to nearly all business sectors, Addison postponed his doctoral studies to work on an electronic stock predictor for the financial industry, which he completed in 1980. That year, he also was named partner at Duquesne Capital Management. Two years later, when Fischer founded Fischer International, his goal was to create security software for data housed on personal computers, as well as for a technology that was just beginning to grow in popularity: e-mail. Tao, one of the new firm's first products, used IBM mainframes as a platform for electronic messaging.

One of Fischer's most well known developments is Smarty, a hardware device that allows personal computers to decipher smart cardssmall cards with computer chips that allow the holder to access data such as financial records, gain access to restricted areas, and purchase goods and services. In 1998, Fischer spun Smarty off into SmartDisk Corp. He initially retained a 60-percent stake in SmartDisk, but later reduced his holding to 38 percent.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Defense's National Computer Security Center both formally recognized Fischer for his government report entitled, "Electronic Document Authorization" in the early 1990s. In 1996, Fischer became the major investor in public key encryption technology vendor Xcert and one of the original investors in Certco, an electronic certification software provider spun off by Bankers Trust Corp. The chief investor in RSA Data Security in the late-1980s, Fischer also contributed capital when RSA spun off its digital authentication technology holdings into publicly held VeriSign Inc. in 1998. Along with his many business commitments, Fischer also serves on various computer security committees established by the U.S. government to address issues related to electronic commerce, and has made presentations on such topics as digital signature methodology and digital telephony to the U.S. Congress.


"Company Profile." Fischer International Systems Corp. Naples, FL: Fischer International Systems Corp., 2001. Available from

"Director Biography." Naples, FL: SmartDisk Corp., 2001. Available from

Souccar, Miriam K. "Smart Cards: 'Building the Future' Drives E-commerce Pioneer." American Banker. February 24, 1999.

SEE ALSO: Computer Security; Cryptography, Public and Private Key; Digital Certificate Authority; Encryption; RSA Data Security Inc.

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