John P. Sall
M.A. Economics, 1973
John Sall is executive vice president and co-founder of SAS Institute Inc., the world’s largest privately held software company, ranked number 1 in the 2010 Fortune study of “best places to work.” The company focuses on the development and distribution of SAS, a computer software suite designed to facilitate data analysis. It is widely used by researchers and engineers in a variety of fields.
In 1976, Mr. Sall and two others partnered with Jim Goodnight to establish SAS. “It’s always been my job to be a statistical software developer,” Mr. Sall said in an interview last year. “I’ve invested my life in it. My net value, it’s all vapor, tied up in company valuations. It’s not real. I don’t go out and buy yachts or do other strange stuff. I spend most of my time working.” During the initial years of the company, Mr. Sall designed, developed, and documented many of the earliest procedures for the original SAS software.
In addition to serving as the company’s current vice president, Mr. Sall is also head of SAS’s JMP business division. Following the launch of the Macintosh in the 1980s, Mr. Sall became interested in developing new graphical ways of representing data. The product of this newfound interest was a data visualization tool called JMP (pronounced “jump”), originally an acronym for “John’s Macintosh Project.” In 1994, the first version of the software was released on Windows. Currently, JMP has an estimated user-base of over 250,000 people. Though JMP is mainly used by research scientists and engineers, the product is also used in mainstream business.
Mr. Sall was born in Rockford and received his B.A. from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. In 1973, he received his Master’s degree in economics from Northern Illinois University. In addition to his work with SAS, Mr. Sall has been a Fellow of the American Statistical Association since 1998, and has held several positions in the association’s Statistical Computing section. He serves on the board of The Nature Conservancy, which reflects his interest in conservation and environmental issues. In 1997, Mr. Sall and his wife contributed to the founding of Cary Academy, an independent college preparatory school for students in grades six through twelve.