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Early CAD Software

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CADTutor

The first CAD software I used was VU-3D. Written by Psion software for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The software was released in 1982 (shortly before AutoCAD 1.0 was released). Although limited in its application it was a good taster of things to come.

 

The program was supplied on a single cassette tape with a short list of functions. The inlay card states: "VU-3D is a sophisticated three-dimensional and display program. Using simple commands, the user may create a solid object or set of objects in three-dimensional space, observe, modify, print and store such displays."

 

3D solid modelling on a home computer in 1982 - quite impressive.

 

VU-3D.jpg

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fuccaro

Wow!

I used too VU-3D but it was just a toy, not a serious application you can work with.

And... I still have somewhere in the basement my first computer: Sinclair zx spectrum. But the keybord is pretty damaged.

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NBC

Sigh, I remember using this too, though not for very long, I might add.

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CADTutor
Wow!

I used too VU-3D but it was just a toy, not a serious application you can work with.

And... I still have somewhere in the basement my first computer: Sinclair zx spectrum. But the keybord is pretty damaged.

 

Yes, my first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ (the one with the proper keyboard) which I bought in 1984. I learned to program in Basic and wrote a few simple routines. Although I'd done a little programming with Fortran77 at university, this was the first time I felt I'd really got to grips with a programming language. It turned out to be a good preparation for developing AutoLISP routines a few years later and PHP more recently.

 

VU-3D wasn't really a serious tool but it was an interesting look into the future.

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fuccaro

Myself I started with Fortran at university, I bought the Sinclair ZX spectrum and learnt Basic, like you did. But from that point I continued with Borland Pascal and I started with Lisp only after ages, sometime around 2002.

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Bill Tillman

I don't recall the above 3D software but what I do remember most is that when I was in the 11th grade and I was pretty darn sure that I was going on to college to study drafting because everyone said draftsmen make the big bucks, (yeah, right). Anyway a college recruiter for one of the tech schools came around and showed us a slide show presentation. One of the slides had a couple of guys huddled around a big box of a computer which had a monitor and keyboard attached to it. He asked how many of us planned on becoming draftsmen (sorry ladies, back then it was draftsmen). A few of us raised our hands. He told us that computer can do everything a draftsman can do and that we should forget all about going to any school except his because his school was the only one in the area which taught the then unheard of skill of Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD). The year was 1975 when Bill Gates was still in college and just beginning to tinker around with the Altair computer.

 

Well needless to say I went on to college and got my training in hand drafting. We were allowed to play around with one of the Wang mainframes which used a CALLPLOT language of some kind to draw land plats for our surveying class. The instructors were sincere but I remember them seeming to really know nothing about what we or they were doing when it came to that computer. Later we all heard about CADD it was way too expensive for most companies. I remember meeting an architect at his shop once and he had a special glass enclosed room for his one and only cad station. He told me they paid north of $50K for it and that was 1984 dollars. In 1982 I recall attending a seminar where they taught us about MacAuto or something like that name which was a proprietary product developed by McDonald Douglas. It not only did CAD but did structural analysis too. And then finally in 1983 someone showed me an actual copy of AutoCAD running on small desktop computer. Several years later in 1988 I worked for a firm which had many drafters (girls were in on it now) but they only had two Intergragh (not AutoCAD) stations. And the only two operators were a husband and wife team who had been with the company for a long time. They were very smug about being the only CAD operators in the company.

 

It was 1992 before I finally tried to use AutoCAD myself. Someone at the office gave me the 5-1/4" disks, all ten of them for AutoCAD 10. I copied them onto my hard drive and then zipped them up. All ten zipped files fit comfortably on one 3-1/2" floppy. I snuck this floppy and one of the instruction books for AutoCAD out of the office during the Xmas break of 1992. This was well before the days of copy encryption so I was able to install it without issue. I then spent the next four days totally engrossed in learning what the college recruiter had told me some 17 years earlier that I should have learned in the first place.

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Coosbaylumber

Prior to autocad......

I sort of remember being hired at a firm circa 1980 due that I knew how to use a keyboard. I was the last of 50 they tried, and only applicant who had any hands on calculation experience with a computer. Everything was abstract, we worked off a blueprint that had numbers written on it. Graphical images like you see today? The guy I sat right next to was the main developer for Civil-cad software, and we had to load up a customer's package via a 900 Mhz modem. Dialed up their telephone number, hung up, and was connected in then. I think we centered around using an Alpha-Micro computer at the time.

 

Prior to that,,,,,, used a lot of H-P stuff, and something with pop-in and out boards, but one circa 1973 was based off a Wang computer and we also had a dial-in service called Pho-cal too. The Wang set-up was based on pencil over some sort of specialized vellum as a flat bed plotter. Had it's own room too. The two countys got together and came out with a ruling as to accept computer generated maps or not. Their main concern was it did not look hand drawn or the text was too small, or something.

 

Times have changed now.

 

Oh, and one time during my lunch hour, I plotted up an airplane for a couple of guys in a hurry to attend some meeting in Orange County. They wanted to see me, a rookie circa 1980, do something other than normal. As I was only one or two minutes from the airport they landed at, why not? Those guys were en route to a demo. of a new Calcomp plotter and they later on came out with Autocad. Circa 1982 the new IBM computer came out and watch out now...

 

Times have changed.

 

Wm.

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Jack_O'neill

The first computer I ever owned (I can hear the laughing already) was an Atari 400XL. It had a membrane keyboard and a single outboard cassette tape drive and a slot for game cartridges. It ran on Atari basic, which was an 8 bit language based on Microsoft Basic (12 bit). Shortly after that, I replaced the 400 with an 800xl because basic was onboard in the rom, instead of having to load it off the tape everytime. It also had an optional dual tape drive which meant you could have your program tape on one side, and a dedicated data tape in the other. Talk about the age of convienience!!!

 

At any rate, it had a drawing program that was pretty cool for it's time. Not really a cad program, and I'm hanged if I can remember the name of it, but you drew by typing commands...Plot x,y...drawto x,y drawto x,y (the x and y are coordinates, of course) and so on till you'd made whatever shape you needed, then you stopped drawing with an "end". It even came with some graph paper that you could run through your copy machine, then sketch your object by hand to assist you with getting the coordinates right.

 

Fast forward a couple years, and now I have a 286 processor, with a 40 Mb hard drive and a whole megabyte of ram on board, running Windows 3.0 (which was soon upgraded to 3.1...fantastic step forward). I'm working for a small company as a machinist/toolmaker, and have been saddled with the task of teaching 3 others how to properly sharpen drills, end mills and other cutters. I thought that might be easier to do if I had some printed material to give the guys, but nothing available to me suited my needs. Tried to get the in-house drafters to make some drawings for me, I even sketched them by hand but they were all too busy. Nearly fell out of the chair when I found out how much Autocad cost even back then (way out of my $8/hr wage bracket in 1985) so I went looking for something I could afford. Found a little program at a local bookstore that had all sorts of software called Key Cad Complete. Not to be confused with Cadkey, this little program was amazingly powerful for its time and would do stuff even Autocad wouldn't (like animated prototypes!). After about a week of himhawing around, I finally pulled the $15.95 out of my pocket and bought the thing. Took about 2 weeks of intense study to get comfortable with it, but I made a whole little booklet on sharpening cutters with this program. Drew drill bits and endmills that looked exactly like the ones we used every day. Measured our equipment and made drawings of it too. By the time I was done, any idiot could have done a fair job of sharpening a cutter if he followed my booklet.

 

The head of the engineering department came out about a month later and told me that he had a guy that he'd loan me for about 3 hours that day if I was ready to do those drawings I wanted. I said, no thanks, that had already been taken care of. When he pressed for who had done it, I pulled out a copy of my little booklet, printed on a dot matrix printer too, by the way, and said quite proudly "I did...at home on my own time". He asked how and what with and I told him. He said something to the effect that he'd like a copy of the booklet so he could go make an autocad version of it. He never did, but after I got moved to the drafting department about 6 months later, guess what my first assignment was?

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Coosbaylumber

Fast forward a couple years' date=' and now I have a 286 processor, with a 40 Mb hard drive and a whole megabyte of ram on board, running Windows 3.0 (which was soon upgraded to 3.1...fantastic step forward). I'm working for a small company as a machinist/toolmaker, and have been saddled with the task of teaching 3 others how to properly sharpen drills, end mills and other cutters. I thought that might be easier to do if I had some printed material to give the guys, but nothing available to me suited my needs. Tried to get the in-house drafters to make some drawings for me, I even sketched them by hand but they were all too busy. Nearly fell out of the chair when I found out how much Autocad cost even back then (way out of my $8/hr wage bracket in 1985) so I went looking for something I could afford. Found a little program at a local bookstore that had all sorts of software called Key Cad Complete. Not to be confused with Cadkey, this little program was amazingly powerful for its time and would do stuff even Autocad wouldn't (like animated prototypes!). After about a week of himhawing around, I finally pulled the $15.95 out of my pocket and bought the thing. Took about 2 weeks of intense study to get comfortable with it, but I made a whole little booklet on sharpening cutters with this program. Drew drill bits and endmills that looked exactly like the ones we used every day. Measured our equipment and made drawings of it too. By the time I was done, any idiot could have done a fair job of sharpening a cutter if he followed my booklet.

[/quote']

 

 

I can remember Key-Cad, for a neighbor gave it to me and loaded it up onto my hard drive (right next to Turbo-cad, Windows 3.1 and Menu), but I was earning at least twice the amount of wages you mentioned.

 

Wm.

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Jack_O'neill
I can remember Key-Cad, for a neighbor gave it to me and loaded it up onto my hard drive (right next to Turbo-cad, Windows 3.1 and Menu), but I was earning at least twice the amount of wages you mentioned.

 

Wm.

 

Yeah, but I bet you weren't working for a factory in Arkansas at the time!:lol:

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SLW210

I think I had either CADKey or Key Cad Complete, I might still have it, I will see once I get all my junk moved. I never really used it much, right after I bought that, I snagged a copy of AutoCAD LT do not remember what year, but should of been around 1992-3 or so, I know I had just bought a 486 DXII and it had Windows 3.0 I believe. Previous to that I used a program called "Drafting Board, Paper and T-Square". LOL I always thought the computer CAD Draftsman had it made, till I started using it and that began my decades of pulling out my hair.

Edited by SLW210

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SLW210
Yeah' date=' but I bet you weren't working for a factory in Arkansas at the time!:lol:[/quote']

 

I know what you mean, I was around $10/hr as a Fabricator/Welder/Machinist in 1985-86, but I had to drive into Memphis from Arkansas to get that.

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Jack_O'neill
I know what you mean, I was around $10/hr as a Fabricator/Welder/Machinist in 1985-86, but I had to drive into Memphis from Arkansas to get that.

 

I thought I was making good money back then. I took that job because it was a $2/hr raise from where I was working before! Car payment was about $55 bucks a month. A big electric bill was $40. The little house we had then was only 900 sq/ft, but it was all we needed. In someways, I think we were actually better off then than we are now.

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Coosbaylumber

I think at that time was earning about $22 per hour, and had just obtained a $2-3 raise the prior year. Everything is more expensive in this area, but the house was running about $350 per month, gasoline was going at $2 per gallon, food was easily $300 per etc. Cannot more in to this area unless you earn the big dollars.

 

Wm.

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Eurodude

UK 1986/87 I used a drafting program that ran on a mainframe it was called "DOGS" = Drawing office graphics system I think.

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dbroada
UK 1986/87 I used a drafting program that ran on a mainframe it was called "DOGS" = Drawing office graphics system I think.
when I started here (90 something) we were on AutoCAD v10/11 but there were a set of floppy disks for micro DOGS. Presumably a cut down version of main frame DOGS. A couple had used it in the past but didn't want it on their machines.

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Snownut

Those days weren't that good, I started on AutoCAD 9, in 1987. Cost of a 286 (with a 30meg hard drive & 512k ram) with Autocad 9, Benchmark (surveying program), a contour generator program (stand alone product at the time) and a numonics (used) single pen plotter & then of coarse there was the calcomp digitizer (whats a mouse) came to just over $10,000. Then AutoCAD would let you upgrade as new releases came out for a few hundred dollars. I was not able to steal a copy from my employer, never have, huge investment at the time for a one man operation.... (software costs haven't changed much, but hardware is wayway down, although there are now software options)

 

Hardware was so expensive at the time, by the time I retired the 286 case, I had changed every component in it, retired as a 386, with 3 internal scuzzy drives and 1024 k ram & different power supply.

Edited by Snownut
adding material

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Dana W

I started CAD in 1981 after drawing with pen and pencil on velum for 12 years. My first CAD software was a proprietary in house program called CD Edit. I have no clue what the CD stood for. It took a VAX mainframe computer to run it.

 

The program could draw lines, circles, arcs, text, and had an electronics symbols library. It was horrible but we all thought it was awesome at the time.

 

The hardware, ah the hardware.

 

My primary workstation was an all steel freestanding pedestal type computer terminal with a 13" monochrome (green) CRT screen, a keyboard, and two finger wheels all built in. It was manufactured by Tektronix. One would manipulate the x/y crosshairs with the finger wheels. I got pretty danged fast with that thing. I also used a 48" x 96" calcomp digitizer table. On - off, on - off, on - off... (or was it A - B, A - B, or 1 -2, 1 - 2...). At any rate, I'd have to take the tape from the digitizer into the computer room, have the operator mount and run it through the editing program, so I could go to my terminal and clean up the lines.

 

We had the usual calcomp pen plotters that looked like washing machines, but my favorite piece of hardware was The Kong. This sucker was a flatbed plotter that was 6'-0" x 10'-0", and made of cast iron, by Kongsberg. That thing weighed more than a Chevy Suburban. The pen/photo head, and the motor rode up and down the table at VERY HIGH speed, on what amounted to a beam crane. It was completely capable of instantly killing you.

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steven-g

This brings back memories my first computer was the Sinclair ZX81 which you had to put together yourself, and it had an astounding 1 kilobyte of memory, which I expanded a while later with a 16k addon which you stuck to the back with velcro. They used a cassette tape and had to be plugged into the TV. I learnt basic and machine language on that. A few years later I spent the christmas holiday copying a cad program from a weekly magazine, you had to type it in by hand, very basic stuff. My early drafting was with pen and paper, and I left that to become a site joiner for many years, only getting back into drafting a few years ago. I still have the ZX81 somewhere.

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