Linear B Corporate Logo

A Certified HUBZone and Woman-Owned Small Business


Clay tablet carved with Linear B runes

Linear B Systems is named for an ancient Mediterranean script dating from about 1450 BCE. Mainly used for administration, Linear B recorded the wealth of the Minoan empire for its rulers. The script was used to track taxes due and payments made along with the population count, the number of heads of cattle, herds of sheep and other elements of the empire's riches. The discovery was made in 1900 by an English archeologist digging in Knossos, Sir Arthur Evans. The clay tablets he found had intricately carved symbols with lines separating each row. Similar but less complex tablets - named "Linear A" - had been found at other Mycenean archeological sites. The Knossos tablets were obviously of a later historical period, so this style was named "Linear B." Sir Arthur's discovery launched a 50-year effort to decipher the language, hampered in large part by his refusal to share more than a few of the tablets he found. Evans wanted to be recognized as both discoverer and decipherer. Despite this limited access a little-known classics professor at Brooklyn College, Alice Kober, successfully organized the elements of the language into male, female, and plural components and also deduced that it was both ideographic (representing things) and syllabic (representing pronunciation). Finally in 1952 after decades of work by Kober and other researchers, Michael Ventris finally succeeded in deciphering the script.

The translation of Linear B demonstrates the power of team work. For many decades Evans would only share a few fragments of the tablets with other scholars. Wanting to solve the riddle himself, Sir Arthur delayed their decryption by decades. It was only after Evans acknowledged defeat that he let other researchers have access to his collection. With more data and a growing correspondence among experts the tablets were finally translated, revising the history of Western Civilization to include this amazing culture. Decoding Linear B was a laborious effort involving investigators of many different nationalities and scholarly disciplines. A primary contributor to the translation was Dr. Alice Kober, a specialist in ancient languages. One of the few woman academics of the early 20th century, her critical role in the effort was ignored until recently. As a woman-owned business, Linear B recognizes the value of women in the work force and the importance of collaborating with all team members both inside and outside the organization to achieve success.

Linear B Tablet photo from Prof. Selkirk, Minoan Civilization, a UK-based project on the origins of western civilization. For more information, check out the Wikipedia article on Linear B.


Portrait of Joan Smith

Joan A. Smith, PhD - Co-Founder and CEO

Joan Smith began developing computer-based training in the late 80's using CDC mainframe terminals to create coursework for the US Army TRADOC command. In the 90's, she worked with the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR) to develop logistics support applications and with the Naval Operations command to modernize their budget-tracking software ("WinPAT"). She later completed a PhD in Computer Science at Old Dominion University (2008). Joan worked with Frank on early design of the WebTA user interface and developed performance analysis scripts. As a web-accessibility specialist, Joan developed certified-accessible web-based training for the VA’s version of WebTA (VATAS). An author of more than 2 dozen peer-reviewed articles, Joan is an Editorial Board member of the International Journal on Digital Libraries and is active in the web’s digital libraries community through organizations such as the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. Connect with Joan on LinkedIn

Portrait of Frank Owen

John "Frank" Owen - Co-Founder and CTO

Frank Owen is probably best known as the original developer of WebTA, the time and attendance system used by many government agencies to track employee payroll and leave. His experience includes working as a CAD engineer for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, as a senior software engineer on a variety of Joint and Navy Command systems, and as developer of an IoT architecture for patient-sensor equipment. Frank received a BS in Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Old Dominion University. An enthusiastic aviator, Frank has been an active member of the New River Valley Pilots Association for over 10 years. Connect with Frank on LinkedIn

Small Staff-Meeting

Our Staff

From Amazon's Cloud to Zigbee Wireless Communications, the Staff at Linear B Systems has extensive experience providing enterprise-wide support to commercial businesses and government agencies. Our employees hold advanced technical degrees, certifications from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, Red Hat Systems, Microsoft, and others. We can help you with the security of your systems, your website's performance, and with the accessibility of your web applications and services.