DECODE, Inc. was founded in 1991 by John Jenkins and Stephen Lyons in Boston, Massachusetts. The firm moved to Seattle in 1994.

John earned his MFA from Indiana University and went to work in 1985 as a graphic designer in the Chicago office of Ligature, an educational development house with design, editorial, and production capabilities. There he worked on educational materials for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Houghton Mifflin Company, McDougal Littel, and Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. John was transferred to the Boston editorial office of Ligature in 1987 in order to develop a graphic design department there.

Steve received his BFA in graphic design from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1978 and was hired by Morgan Burchette Associates of Alexandria, Virginia, as an entry level designer. When he left the firm four years later as senior designer, he had developed corporate identities, marketing materials, and annual reports for clients including National League of Cities, PBS, NPR, Amtrak, and General Electric Information Services Company. He later worked at E. James White Company of Alexandria as senior designer for accounts including Amtrak, Fairchild Industries, and Fannie Mae. He then moved to Boston and taught graphic design courses at The New England School of Art and Design and the Massachusetts College of Art as adjunct instructor while freelancing as a designer.

In 1987, John hired Steve as a freelance graphic designer at Ligature and over the course of the next four years, both were promoted to Co-Design Directors of the Boston office and then Steve was promoted to Managing Director overseeing schedules, budgets, and a staff of 75 people.

For the past 25+ years, they have pursued working closely with educational publishers as DECODE, Inc., with the goal of bringing clarity and understanding to information design as partners in the visual and verbal development of integrated middle-school and high-school textbook products.