OK, let’s walk it back. While paper was invented in 105 A.D. by the Chinese, the use of it in drawings for design entered Europe in the 1300’s. In the sixteenth century, French academics created mathematical formulae to express geometric figures in two disciplines: artistic and design drawings. As time went on, renderings were created with the use of a drafting table, a pencil (the kind that needed to be sharpened every hour or so), and some drafting pieces for drawing straight lines and curved surfaces.
Fast-forward to 1963 when Ivan Sutherland, for his PhD thesis at MIT, created Sketchpad, a GUI (graphical user interface) to generate XY plots. Using Sketchpad created a foundation for pioneering the use of object-oriented programming in modern CAD (computer-aided design) and CAE (computer-aided engineering) systems. It was revolutionary for its time and formed the basis for what can now be used by five-year-olds to draw their vision of a firehouse.
From the 1960s through the 1980s, extensive work was performed in designing all things with CAD, including electronics, airplanes, and buildings. In 1982, when personal computers gave CAD a larger audience, John Walker (along with fifteen other cofounders) launched Autodesk at the COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas as the first CAD program to run on a PC. Four years later, AutoCAD became the most widely used design application, and it continues to retain that position thirty-one years later, with thirty-one versions of the program addressing different industry needs. What was once limited to a computer-generated drawing printed out on a basic printer now has the ability to blow our minds with options that defy credibility. Take a look at this video, which provides just a taste of what is out there.
We consider our CAD department to be the foundation for working with our clients on their event build. Our teams use CAD to work around any issues that may come into play. Building stadium seating for five thousand around a putting green for the US Open when it mustn’t intrude but, rather, form fit to the terrain, is a job for our CAD team. They can even use the software to create something as small as a riser build so every seat has a view around a central stage. It gives our clients a view of the vision before the project begins, and allows us to uncover any issues and address them before timing is of the essence.
And there you have it: the history of computer-aided design and drafting. Hats off to innovation and creation from great minds over the past fifty-some-odd years! We at InProduction are grateful.