In 1997 I was an Autodesk customer working at Oregon Iron Works here in the Portland Oregon area. I gave an interview as an AutoCAD R14 early pre-release alpha tester on how much better AutoCAD R14 was than the previous AutoCAD R13 release. Rohit Arora found the AutoCAD R14 demo CD-ROMs today and posted to LinkedIn tagging me.
Warning: This image and video is not for the faint of heart.
I am in the process of updating my AutoCAD History page after we just released the new AutoCAD 2017 Monday March 21, 2016. AutoCAD 2017 was codenamed Nautilus in alpha and beta testing prior to being officially released publicly.
Update: My good friend Vladimir Michl of http://www.cadforum.cz spotted the error in my accounting he said AutoCAD 2017 should be 31 not 32 because I copy pasted an error and 2016 should have been release 30. While he is absolutely correct, I could go back and say R14.01 with its own codename of pinetop was technically a release adding networking and so much more bringing 2017 back to release 32, but I won’t. Thank you for keeping me honest Vladimir.
AutoCAD 2.6 included a sample drawing of a nozzle that has been one of the iconic sample drawings in AutoCAD release history. While it may seem trivial today to draw this, back in the early 1980’s it was really challenging for the creator of the drawing Don Strimbu in 1983 using a primitive featured AutoCAD running on floppy disks and a slow 8086 computer. I have a running version of AutoCAD 2.18 that I run in a virtual machine from time to time for fun as there wasn’t even an UNDO command back then, or the ELLIPSE command. I have always wanted to run a AutoCAD user challenge on an old 286 computer and see how todays top AutoCAD user would fare using it as it might be an entertaining Autodesk University event.
See the 2D Nozzle DWG sample file for yourself in the free online viewer (link good for the next 30 days):
This 5.25” floppy represents the very early days of AutoCAD where the introduction of the 2 year old AutoCAD version 2 was being exhibited at the FALL COMDEX 1984. AutoCAD 86 was first shown publicly at COMDEX 1982. It is amazing how far technology and Autodesk has come and transformed over the past 30 plus years.
You may have seen a 5.25” floppy in the 1980’s, but what about a 8” floppy? Back in 1984 AutoCAD-86 version 1.40 was released for the NEC platform on 8” floppy disks. Increasingly these days most under the age of 30 have never seen a floppy disk and don’t recognize what the floppy image on the standard software “save” icons really is.
In this image you can see a 5.25” AutoCAD floppy and the 8” AutoCAD-84 version 1.40 floppy disk.
Who remembers using the 8” floppy or even the AutoCAD 86 5.25” floppy back in the day?
Recently my Irish friend living in Australia Sean Twomey asked me how I managed to get AutoCAD 2.18 to run on modern hardware. I told him all you needed was to create a virtual machine and then create a virtual disk smaller than 10Mb because in 1985 apparently a hard drive beyond 10Mb was crazy thinking the 30 year old AutoCAD version would not launch. Sean got his version running just in time for Autodesk University Australia in Sydney held last week and had it running live for people to try and solve a fun geometry challenge. It is a lot of fun to play around with retro AutoCAD when there wasn’t even an UNDO.
Do you think you could use a 30 year old version of AutoCAD 2.18 and solve the geometry problem posed by Sean?
Post your solution in the post comments.
“We challenged people to work out the angle to make the pool shot and show the dimensions of the angles being equal.”
“We took it a level further and worked out the angle to put the ball as well.”
Thank you for sharing the fun retro-ACAD challenge Sean!
If anyone wants to run a 30 year old AutoCAD, chase me down at Autodesk University or if I am visiting your area or you happen to be in the POrtland Oregon area.
On this Throwback Thursday I share with you a scan I just did of one of the most important floppy disks in Autodesk’s over 30 years of history besides the original AutoCAD 1.0 floppy disks that I also have,
This floppy contains the demo drawing files shown at COMDEX 1984 where AutoCAD R2 took the industry by storm and became what it is today 31 years later. I will share images of the drawings at a later date. Remember these drawings and AutoCAD didn’t even have the ability to UNDO back then and less than 20 commands.
Read Autodesk founder John Walker’s writings about Comdex 1984. Shown in John’s photos are one of the infamous CAD/Camera products which I still have a complete package of, bonus points if you know what it did.
In 2007 I met with Autodesk founder John Walker at his home in Switzerland for a discussion about the 25th anniversary of AutoCAD. We discussed a lot, mostly about early Autodesk and AutoCAD history. We got on the topic of comparing his days writing early AutoCAD code and the current AutoCAD development. John asked how large the source code in lines was in the current release of AutoCAD which was AutoCAD 2008 at the time. I answered John with “close to 12 million lines of code” and he had a look of disbelief and said “when he wrote code for AutoCAD it was only a few thousand lines” and “I can’t imagine working in that large of a codebase.” That was a funny moment, but made sense given it had been many years since John had wrote code and perhaps since the 1980s and many features and more had been added since. The early AutoCAD releases didn’t even have the UNDO command yet. Back in those days you had to exit the drawing without saving to UNDO your changes. The list of commands was so short you could memorize them all or almost count on your fingers and toes. I still run AutoCAD 2.18 on my laptop in a virtual machine for fun and nostalgia.
What do you remember or are curious about in the early days of AutoCAD?
It's Thursday (Throwback Thursday), the day after hump day when you show photos or info from history and the wayback machine. Today I proudly present you a screen capture I took from AutoCAD 2.18 circa 1985 showing all commands it supported. Now contrast that with the hundreds of commands today's AutoCAD has and realize how much functionality has been added in the past 30 years.
Did you notice there is no UNDO but there is an OOPS command?
On this Throwback Thursday I give you Autodesk's 3D Studio R1 for DOS from 1990. 3D Studio was the predecessor to the very popular Autodesk 3ds Max. This is from back when when 3D was for more difficult and primitive on old x86 PCs running DOS and you created everything in two steps using the Shaper and Lofter then rendered it. I have this old 3D Studio "carpet bag" package with all original disks. I think in those days we paid by the pound for software packaging, the more complex and expensive the software, the heavier the packaging had to be.
See the old 3D Studio in action on YouTube:
The Engineers Guide to Drinks drawing or Infographic as it is now called in reality was really just a test drawing was originally created by someone that was very creative or very bored in order to test pen plotters back in 1972. I was not the original creator, and never have taken credit for it other than re-drawing it again in AutoCAD and bringing it back to life. In bringing it back to life on this blog it has taken the world literally by storm making headlines on big name media sites such as Fast Company, Laughing Squid, and now Food & Wine Magazine. It made one of the Top 18 infographics of 2014 as selected by Fast Company.
Imagine that this 1972 created drawing gained well deserved fame 43 years later. I have now seen the drawing not only in the media but used as sample drawings again as recently as class sessions at Autodesk University and we even gave out nice prints at our Blogger and Social Meetup.
Live Long and Prosper Engineers Guide to Drinks!
Feast your eyes on this pristine heavy gem of hardware. What year was it given out?
It is a Magellan Space Mouse from then named LogiCad by Logitech.
I am going to hazard a guess it is from the very early 1990s.
Here is the back side of the Space Mouse
On this day January 30th, 1982, 32 years ago a small group of people held an initial meeting in Marin County California to organize what became Autodesk. They risked it all including all the money they could scrape together and it paid off for millions of people from employees, customers, partners, and investors.
A sincere thank you to John Walker and all the ‘deskers’ that followed in the founders and pioneers footsteps to this day as you literally changed the world, and still continue to 32 years later.
Thank you everyone!
Autodesk Flying founders
From left to right:
Rudolf Künzli, Mike Ford, Dan Drake, Mauri Laitinen, Greg Lutz, David Kalish, Lars Moureau, Richard Handyside,Kern Sibbald, Hal Royaltey, Duff Kurland, John Walker, Keith Marcelius
John Walker’s quote.
“We should shoot for having the company in operation by mid-March. We cannot dawdle, but we also are going to do it right this time. We're just going to do it fast! “
Onward and Upward!
Autodesk’s 4087 employee hired in 1998 and unofficial historian.
One of the finest features to ever be added to software is the UNDO command. This includes AutoCAD when it was added in AutoCAD Release 2.5 (mid 1980s) because apparently users prior to that never ever made a mistake.
Funny AutoCAD history tidbit: Before the UNDO command was added into AutoCAD you had to close the drawing without saving to be able to undo what you last did.
I proudly present to you my spur gear building designed in AutoCAD Architectural Desktop (ADT) r1 circa 1998 and codenamed Portsmouth. I tried to convince the Autodesk AEC team then located in Henniker New Hampshire I was a mechanical designer and had little architectural design skills. It was the warped humor of mine, but as I recall the architecture professionals were not thinking it was as funny as did I.
The office space in my spur gear building was really quite nice with each gear tooth having an office with a window and then in the center a central conference room. Frank Lloyd Wright would have been proud, ok maybe that’s a stretch. Still it was amazing that the first beta of what later became AutoCAD Architecture was able to solve the gear roof.
-Shaan NAA (Not an Architect)
Here is a fun rare flashback to 1992 and the rare AutoCAD R11 for Macintosh. Having the actual R11 and R12 for Macintosh physical versions is like having your own private unicorn herd, in a CAD geek way.
From the AutoCAD Release 11 for Macintosh March 20, 1992 Installation Guide.
In the vintage AutoCAD for Mac R11 and R12 versions, we used a mostly standard AutoCAD R11/R12 DOS User Interface on the Mac, but with the current AutoCAD for Mac we asked Mac users what they wanted, and they overwhelmingly wanted a native Mac UI experience with the menubar, palettes, and visors.
Now Back to the Future of today:
The current AutoCAD 2014 Windows