View Full Version : AutoCAD in 1963

04-24-2009, 03:05 PM
Well, technically, it was called Sketchpad, but as you can see from this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USyoT_Ha_bA) and this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKM3CmRqK2o) video, it was a CAD program, which could even do some 3-D design work, and recognized shapes as being wireframe or solids.

04-24-2009, 05:19 PM
That is cool. Thanks:)

I know why I trouble with CAD, I don't wear a suit and a tie. :D

04-24-2009, 09:55 PM
Ahhh light pens, them were the days. Cant imagine using something like that back then or now.

Must have been quite the discussion among the drafters of the time.

Draftsman#1 "You think that new electric drafting board thing will take off?"

Draftsman#2 "Nope, waist of time to learn anything like that. Give me that eraser over there by you, I have to start over, again."


Spin Doctor
04-25-2009, 11:07 AM
No wonder people think AutoCAD is a kludge ifit dates back to '63 or earlier

John Stevenson
04-25-2009, 11:34 AM
Another milestone in it's history.



04-25-2009, 11:36 AM
In 1964 I was learning to write software on a Bendix G15. It had a flat bed plotter which was an extraordinarily expensive accessory since it used vacuum tube driven servos. We were figuring out how to program and plot various primitives used in CAD such as circles, arcs, polygons and other shapes. And yes, I did wear a tie, white shirt with ivory cuff links, dark pants and a buzz cut.

Spin Doctor
04-25-2009, 11:44 AM
And yes, I did wear a tie, white shirt with ivory cuff links, dark pants and a buzz cut.
Your better looking days i presume :rolleyes:

loose nut
04-25-2009, 12:39 PM
People don't realize how hard it was to get a computer to draw a simple straight line in those days compared to what a 3D parametric modeler will do today. The system he was showing wasn't Autocad it was a research developmental system that future Cad systems, including Autocad grew out of. I doubt to many draftsmen could get anything done on it but Cad had to start somewhere. More "modern" systems like this where in use in the 70's and 80's, still using light pens. In those days the mouse was still "just a fad".

No wonder people think AutoCAD is a kludge if it dates back to '63 or earlier

People who think Autodesks "Autocad" is a "kludge" don't know there business.

It's a general 2D/3D cad package designed to do just about anything a cad program can do.

Most people that knock it compare it to programs like Solidworks which is a 3D parametric modeler that works best for mechanical design (not drafting like Autocad or other straight cad program) and against that it will come up second best because your doing apples and oranges. If you compare Solidworks against Autodesk's 3D parametric modeler "Inventor" they will clam up, other than personnel preference they are about equal.
If you try and use a 3D modeler program to do a 2D drawing it will work, usually, but it wouldn't be as good as using a straight cad package like Autocad.

Apples and oranges.

04-25-2009, 12:52 PM
If you are interested in Autocad you can get the history straight from the horse's mouth, John Walker, one of the founders of Autodesk.


The Autodesk File chronicles the history of Autodesk, Inc. and its principal product, AutoCAD, through contemporary documents edited and annotated by Autodesk founder and former CEO John Walker. The book traces the company from the first glimmer of an idea in the minds of the founders, through start-up, initial public stock offering, and growth from a loose confederation of moonlighting individuals to a leader in the industry of computer aided design. The book is available in several different editions, suited for on- or off-line reading with various tools. Click on the titles of the section describing the edition you select to view it or download to your computer.

As a side note, everything he publishes online is placed in the public domain so you are free to copy and distribute whatever you like.

04-25-2009, 01:37 PM
Here is a free online book about the history of CAD

I bought my first system about 1980 It was 2D, used a Tektronix direct view storage tube, and input was with X and Y thumb wheels and a tablet, (similar to a mouse.)

BTW I have used CAD continuously since then but never used AutoCad.


04-25-2009, 04:31 PM
The Vectrex vector graphics home arcade machine also came with a light pen and a program called Art Master that had a few simple CAD like functions. Unfortunately CGE never produced the keyboard and I/O module that they had planned to turn it into a full blown home computer. I have two Vectrex machines including the light pen and ArtMaster program as well as the 3D imager and most of the games ever released.

Being a system based on vector graphics it would have been almost usable for simple CAD work. I have been considering taking one of the units and hacking it by adding an external interface. It would make a nice audio storage oscilloscope since it already accepts analog input via the joystick pots.

04-25-2009, 08:28 PM
I got my BSME in 1963 and the Schools Engineering computer was an IBM 1620 with card type input/output. The productive programming was Fortran 2. We did some Basic Binary programing that was less than productive, but was more memory consertative. Memory was large and expensive back then. Went to word for Rocketdyne Div of North American. They had a IBM 7075 on the west coast used to run programs we had a 1620 to talk to it on a secure basis. Security was from matched magnetic memory cards. The Cuban crisis had caused someone to rethink how many Sidewinder, Sparrow/Shrike air launched missiles they might need and it was a get it going mentality and budget. A lot of the better minds that I knew back then are gone and I guess it is natural to regard that time as the good old days.

04-26-2009, 11:07 PM
Wow back then drawing lines was cool, now we have high Definition porn.

I bet them boys back then had no Idea how good porn would be now days. :D

04-26-2009, 11:50 PM
Nothing new about that. Just the medium has changed. Check out the stone carvings on this temple in India.


04-27-2009, 11:40 AM
I first used AutoCAD in 1985 or 1986... it was version 2.1 and ran under Microsoft DOS. It was 2D only at that time, but you could do isometric drawings with it of course. I learned to use it WITHOUT the benefit of a mouse... typing in all commands and using the arrow keys for cursor position. After my intial self training, I used that skill in AutoCAD to feed my family for almost 7 years before getting into computer security... I converted three drafting board engineering departments into CAD shops using AutoCAD, and when I left my last CAD job in 1993, the company I was managing for was using AutoCAD in full 3D to design metal enclosures.

There may be a lot of newcomers in software that can do things a lot easier than AutoCAD... especially 3D modelling, but if you learned that CAD is nothing new to drafting... just an upgrade from pencil and paper to computer manipulation, you can learn any CAD system that will do the job... I still would use AutoCad for minor things, but I don't have much of a need for it anymore... now that I am getting back in Hobby machining... it may once again get dusted off...

04-27-2009, 12:21 PM
I was using CAD in the 80's as well with a slight difference. The program I used wasn't as powerful as Autocad but then I wrote it myself and among many other things used it to draw the figures for the below article in Transactor Magazine. I had to write my own software because it ran on a video card that I designed and built in about 1985 that gave my Commodore 128 a hi res display capable of showing about 1200x 800 pixels in 16 colors. I had to hack the monitor to get it to display that as well as overclock the computer. That's part of the reason this article was about adding more cooling to your computer. I don't know if anybody else was overclocking back then but I have overclocked every computer I have ever had since 1979.