With its origin in the Georgetown machine translation effort, SYSTRAN was one of the few machine translation systems to survive the major decrease of funding after the ALPAC Report of the mid-1960s. The company was established in La Jolla in California to work on translation of Russian to English text for the United States Air Force during the Cold War. Large numbers of Russian scientific and technical documents were translated using SYSTRAN under the auspices of the USAF Foreign Technology Division (later the National Air and Space Intelligence Center) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The quality of the translations, although only approximate, was usually adequate for understanding content.
The company was sold in 1986 to the Gachot family, based in Paris, and is now traded publicly on the French stock exchange. Its company headquarters is in Paris, while its U.S. headquarters is still in La Jolla.
During the dot-com boom, the international language industry started a new era, and SYSTRAN entered into agreements with a number of translation integrators, the most successful of these being
In 2014, the company was acquired by CSLi (Korea).