CAD chronology

before 1970


Several other companies began to offer automated design/drafting systems in early 70s.
Applicon was more a research-oriented company. In the mid 80s it was acquired by Schlumberger and then merged with MDSI which Schlumberger had acquired earlier.

Calma was originally a manufacturer of digitizer used in mapping and integrated circuit manufacturing, and starts to move to the graphic industry at the same time.
In mid 80s Calma was acquired by General Electric and then sold to Prime Computer.

In 1973, the Hillman Trust purchased Auto-trol. That same year, Auto-trol emerged as a pioneer in the fledgling CAD industry by announcing Auto-Draft, one of the first turnkey graphics systems available. .

There was also a significant amount of internal development at major automotive and aerospace firms like General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Lockheed, which work hard, on CADAM.

In 1970 M&S Computing founded (later becomes Intergraph). At the beggining it was a consulting firm that supported government agencies in using digital technology. Among these technologies were application-oriented user interfaces that communicated with users in the language of their applications, rather than in programming terminology.
The first Intergraph computer graphics system to apply these innovative computing concepts was used by the federal government for designing printed circuit boards.

Meanwhile, in 1971, Donald Welbourn had become Director in Industrial Co-operation and Director of the Wolfson Cambridge Industrial Unit. He persuaded the Pye Foundation to support T.H.Gossling, a member of the Unit, in developing DUCT.
Control Data had also become interested in the work, seeing it as a front end for creating Finite Element meshes. As a result of this industrial support, Welbourn, had been able in 1974 to get a grant from it for Dr.R.B.Morris and Dr.J.Matthewman to continue developing DUCT.
The Science Research Council had said that this work was no longer research, while industry was saying that a lot more development was required.
Faced with a potential disaster vis--vis the DTI, Welbourn took the direction of the work back into his own hands. and started systematically to test the programs, and the instruction manuals.
This resulted in a quality of handbook which was partly responsible for VW and Daimler-Benz taking licenses for DUCT, since they said that they had never seen such clear instructions produced by any firm, let alone by a university.
Welbourn never did any of the programming in connection with the work, but made it his job to set targets for what needed to be done, to get money and to get able staff to do the work. In the early stages of the work, up to the oil crisis of 1973, he had got a dozen or so firms to second men to work with the team in Cambridge, thus enabling the firms to get experience of CAD without having to find the capital for a dedicated computer.

MCS was founded in 1971 by Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty. Since the day it was founded in 1971, MCS has enjoyed an enviable reputation for technological leadership in mechanical CADD/CAM software.
In addition to selling products under its own name, in its early years MCS also supplied the CADD/CAM software used by such companies as McDonnell Douglas (Unigraphics), Computervision (CADDS), AUTOTROL (AD380), and Control Data (CD-2000) as the core of their own products.
In fact, industry analysts have estimated that 70% of all the 3-D mechanical CADD/CAM systems available today trace their roots back to MCS's original code.

The company's first product, ADAM (Automated Drafting and Machining), was released in 1972, ran on 16-bit computers, and was one of the first commercially available mechanical design packages.

In 1972 the CUED was able to obtain two 3-axis n/c machine tools with a DTI grant to help the m/c tool industry, thus enabling the work in CAD to be expanded into CAM.
One of these, a Hayes milling machine, went onto the firm's stand at the Machine Tool Exhibition at Olympia that Autumn, and thanks to a sterling effort by P.J.Payne, a jug-like object, was cut on the stand.
This was probably the first ever public demonstration of 3-D CADCAM at a machine tool exhibition.

1972: The earliest Intergraph (M&S Computing) terminal was designed to create and display graphic information. Composed of unaltered stock parts from various vendors, the terminals consisted of a single-screen Tektronix 4014 display terminal with an attached keyboard and an 11-inch by 11-inch "menu" tablet that provided the operator with a selection of drawing commands.

By the end of 1973 and the beginning of 1974 a number of firms had paid the WCIU to make simple tools for them. These were probably the first industrial tools, other than those for automobile bodies, to be made using CADCAM.
They were both programmed by T.H.Gossling, and made in the CUED workshop.

In 1974 the first commercial sale of an M&S system. The system - based on a PDP central processor from Digital Equipment Corporation - ran the first version of Intergraph's original core graphics software, the Interactive Graphics Design System (IGDS), and was used for mapping applications.

Electronic Data System Corporation (EDS) is founded in 1975

A major improvement was the new 19" display terminals from Tektronix in 1975, which allows to display larger drawings than the original 11" units.

In 1975 Avions Marcel Dassault (AMD) purchased CADAM (Computer-Augmented Drafting and Manufacturing) software equipment licenses from Lockheed thus becoming one of the very first CADAM customers.

Early solid modeling software first started showing up in the late 70s. Taking basic geometric objects such a sphere, block, cylinders and wedges and combining them using Boolean operations such a remove a cylinder from a block to create a hole.

In 1976, MCS introduced AD-2000, a design and manufacturing system for the first 32-bit computers.

In 1976 United Computing, developer of the Unigraphics CAD/CAM/CAE system, acquired by Mc Donnell Douglas company.

By 1977, Avions Marcel Dassault assigned its engineering team the goal of creating a three-dimensional, interactive program, the forerunner of CATIA (Computer-Aided Three-Dimensional Interactive Application).
Its major advance over CADAM was that all-important third dimension.
While CADAM automated the existing world of two-dimension engineering, essentially drafting and calculation with roots in descriptive plane geometry, CATIA lifted Dassault engineers into the world of 3-D modeling, removing the possibility of misinterpreting two-dimensional data and generating a host of immediate benefits.

In 1977 a new department called Delta Technical Services was formed at Cambridge University to continue research in CAD, but it remained difficult to justify the technology as computers were slow and expensive and the available software had few automatic features and was difficult to use.

In 1978, Computervision introduced the first CAD terminal using raster display technology.
In the late 70s, Computervision made a costly decision to build their own computer system.
Once the new 32-bit systems replaced the old systems, Computervision was no more on the first line and switched to Sun Microcomputers. Finally it was acquired by Prime.

In 1978 the Computer Graphics Newsletter, a 2 years old publication, change the owner and will become Computer Graphics World magazine.

In 1979, Auto-trol became the first company to market technical publishing applications to be used to produce the complex technical illustrations needed for service manuals, parts catalogs, and engineering documentation.

In 1979 Boeing, General Electric and NIST develops a neutral file format as a contract from Air Space called IGES (Initial Graphic Exchange Standard).
It will become the industry standard format and the most widely accepted format for transferring complex surface information, such as NURBS curves.

At the same time Cymap, an English company, starts developing HVAC and Electrical drawings software. Their major product will be CADLink.

Mike and Tom Lazear who are credited with developing the first PC CAD software in 1979

At the end of 70s a typical CAD system was a 16-bit minicomputer with maximum of 512 Kb memory and 20 to 300 Mb disk storage at a price of 125,000 USD.

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