Paper still has a place in the business world, but if companies like Provo-based Folio Corp. are successful, its role will shrink to the size of a Post-it note.

In addition, computer users will have an easy, quick way to make sense out of the mass of information available at their fingertips. Folio dubs its vision "information democracy."Folio Corp., founded in 1986 by Brad D. Pelo, 30, and Curt D. Allen, 32, celebrates its seventh anniversary this spring with the release of Views 3.0. The company hopes the upgraded (rewritten might be more accurate) software program will distinguish it clearly as a leader in the personal electronic publishing field.

Folio has built a reputation over the past six years with its Views software that allows computer users to gather, organize, update and share information through creation of infobases. It got lumped with other programs that managed documents, retrieved text and kept track of files, such as Zyindex, PC Docs, Fulcrum and Dynatext.

Views 3.0, scheduled for release this spring, will more clearly demonstrate what Folio is all about: using the same technology that creates information to disseminate and share information in a more timely, less expensive manner.

More simply, Folio is providing a way to eliminate much of the paper clogging today's business world while making information easier to access.

"The majority of computer usage is paper output," Pelo said. "We don't use computers to consume information."

Electronic publishing could save businesses time and money on printing costs of internal memos, corporate newsletters, bulletins, policy manuals, etc.

Folio hopes to spur a personal electronic publishing revolution in which computers are used to access, create, consume and share information, practically in the blink of an eye.

Which is only slightly faster than the company took to achieve success.

Pelo and Allen were struck by the proverbial lightning bolt in 1986 when they realized computer users needed a way to manage the wealth of information available at their fingertips. During a summer break, the two university students began working on a program to index, compress and continually update textual information.

They founded Folio with a core group of five employees, dropped out of Brigham Young University (Pelo was studying public policy while Allen was in mechanical engineering) and never looked back.

The company achieved a benchmark of success in 1988 when Novell agreed to provide a read-only version of Folio's software with every NetWare operating system it shipped.

Folio released the first retail version of Views in 1989.

"It's been a multimillion-dollar company since the first year it started out," Pelo said.

A year later, Views 2.0, an upgraded version of the product, followed. It won rave reviews, including a product of the year award from Today's Office Magazine. Folio's Views took top awards in the document management category in the Lan Times Readers' Choice Survey in 1991; it received top honors in the survey's expanded document management and text retrieval products category in 1992.

It's rather ironic that Folio's software got attention for document management, when that's not really the primary purpose of Views, said David Coursey, editor of PC Letter, an industry newsletter based in San Mateo, Calif.

Folio added a publishing division in 1991 to serve the electronic text needs of commercial publishers such as Prentice-Hall, Thomson International and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

By then, Folio had attracted the attention of Mead Data Central Inc., the largest producer of electronic publications in the world. Mead Data Central made a capital investment in Folio.

This January Mead Data Central bought Folio outright, making it a wholly owned subsidiary. Folio will continue to operate in Provo.

Mead Data Central, which has annual revenues of $469.5 million, is perhaps best known for LEXIS and NEXIS, its on-line information services.

"The Folio software products are fast becoming the leaders in PC and LAN-based information management," Rodney L. Ever-hart, acting president of Mead Data Central, said at the time. "This is a natural match with the value provided by the LEXIS and NEXIS services and the products of our other subsidiary companies. We expect great benefits for our legal and business customers."

Mead's backing gives Folio the resources it needs to grow and contacts for new businesses opportunities.

That support could be crucial as Folio vies with Lotus Notes for supremacy in personal electronic publishing and with numerous other companies in the crowded text retrieval and indexing software market, including Lotus, Dataware, Adobe Acrobat and Zyindex.

One feature of Views 3.0 may help it find a niche apart from the rest of the pack: real-time indexing of infobases (single files of compressed, indexed freeform information).

Real-time indexing would be useful, for example, to companies that provide customer support services, with employees fielding questions from customers who often want identical help or information, said Mark Walter Jr..

Views 3.0 will enable a customer support representative to retrieve information already entered into the company's infobase or enter new information that simultaneously becomes available to other employees in the service department.

WordPerfect's customer support department, which fields 25,000 calls a day, uses Views 3.0.

Views 3.0 will run on a DOS, Windows or Macintosh platform. Other feature highlights of the program include multiuser real-time editing, 16-terabyte file capacity and the ability to scale and embed multimedia objects directly in the infobase.

Folio currently employs 60 people. It expects to double in size over the next year.