AutoCAD turns 40. How time flies…

As I taught my AutoCAD Essentials class today, I joked that I started using AutoCAD when I was eighteen, and that I am now fifty-two. Thirty-four years of AutoCAD under my belt, in various guises, most of them professional (I hope). Most of today’s class trainees laughed, and I commented that when I was typing in full AutoCAD command names at the command prompt, most of them hadn’t been born.


It really got me thinking. Back then, I would never have thought that I would be an Autodesk Certified Instructor, teaching AutoCAD classes over Zoom (thanks, COVID). My first AutoCAD course I attended was in a tiny training room in Surrey, and I was taught by the lovely Andy Coulson. One of the most patient, knowledgeable AutoCAD instructors I have ever had the chance to meet. I wonder where he is now?


So, what exactly am I getting at? Well, time cannot stand in the way of progress. My first version of AutoCAD ran on MS-DOS (the first operating system offering from a certain Bill Gates). Back then, it installed from (I think) sixteen 5 ¼ inch floppy disks (Shaan Hurley/Kean Walmsley – please jump in here). And yes, they were floppy. So much so, that if you bent them, they were well and truly creased, and broken, never to install AutoCAD again. Trust me, been there, done that, and I have the T-shirt somewhere.


On 30th January 2022, the beloved AutoCAD turns FORTY years old. Yep, you read that right. Forty. I have gone from a huge monochrome CRT ‘box’ that weighed a ton, to running AutoCAD on a MacBook Pro with two 27-inch flat panel monitors. I also use AutoCAD on a small tablet – my iPad Pro, and my even smaller iPhone 12 Pro Max. I can 3D scan using those devices, to create a 3D point cloud, send it off to the app provider, and they then send me a full AutoCAD DWG file in return, for a small fee.


Isn’t technology wonderful? I can still remember using house bricks to hold large paper drawings down on the bonnet (hood) of my car, in the snow or the rain, trying to mark up revisions in red ink. I soon realised pencil was the better option, after getting back to the office one day to find I had a pink, soggy drawing with no revisions after a difficult as-built measure session in the rain. Now, all I need is a small Apple tablet and the associated Apple pencil for those mark-ups, and I don’t even need to touch a paper drawing.


So, when you start up the latest version of AutoCAD to work on your next world-class design, remember AutoCAD has real history, and with that comes the pedigree and class of being one of the most popular, long-standing Computer Aided Design (CAD) applications on the planet.


As some Autodesk staffers once commented to me, no matter where you are in the world, you will have used, touched, seen or even heard a product that has been designed somewhere along the line with the almighty AutoCAD.


Happy birthday, AutoCAD, and long may your success continue!


Shaun (Cadjedi) Bryant - Owner of CADFMconsultants and the blog "Not Just CAD!"