2023 is a milestone year for Axon. We have spent the past 30 years listening, learning and leading the way in innovation for public safety and the communities they serve. What started as a single piece of hardware in a garage in Arizona has grown into a global ecosystem of life-saving public safety products and partners. Along the way we’ve experienced breakthroughs, setbacks, monumental success, and humbling lessons. But through it all, we’ve remained committed to our mission to Protect Life.
Axon was founded in 1993 by CEO Rick Smith after two of his friends were tragically shot and killed in a road rage incident. “I just became passionately interested in the gun violence problem,” recalled Rick. “I believe, the way we really solve problems permanently and deeply is through technological change.” The first technological change to tackle was developing a less-lethal alternative to the traditional firearm.
Problem-solving is at the heart of what we do at Axon. Less-lethal technology was just the start of building an ecosystem designed to solve problems for public safety and communities — from creating efficiencies and decreasing administrative work to capturing truth and building trust through transparency and training.
To celebrate 30 years of innovation, we’re taking a look back at our journey and a look forward at what's next for the future of public safety technology.
1993 – 2003: Initial explorations in less-lethal
The first decade of Axon marks early explorations into the potential of less-lethal technology. The original AIR TASER 34000, intended for the civilian market, launched in 1994. However, the device resonated more strongly with law enforcement, who adopted it as a less-lethal device in their toolkit.
Five years later, the ADVANCED TASER M26 energy weapon was created to increase stopping power by delivering neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI), rather than relying on pain compliance. The M26 also introduced a feature allowing for record logs of device usage including time, date and duration of each use. These core features of the M26 energy weapon became foundational for future models. However, TASER technology has advanced over the decades in large part due to our public safety partners, who saw the potential to make the world a safer place with less-lethal technology.