MCAD Tech News (#246)

6 Aug, 2008

A Detailed History of Mechanical CADp>

A new book offers a unique perspective of the evolution of engineering design.

By Jeffrey Rowe

Jeffrey Rowe photoLet's face it, the CAD industry has not only spawned innovation, but also has endured some tumultuous times throughout the course of its history, which now spans a little more than a half-century. Over the years, myriad technologies have emerged, evolved, proliferated, disappeared, or have been just plain forgotten. The various CAD technologies represent the gamut of promises, possibilities, and problems (the latter primarily related to legacy data from so many different CAD systems; in other words, interoperability — still a huge issue today).

Over the years, a few authors, mainly academicians or former company executives, have attempted to document segments of CAD history, either by a range of years or a specific company's contributions. However, as far as I know there was never a comprehensive history of the mechanical CAD industry, including its academic roots. That is, until now.

A new book titled The Engineering Design Revolution: The People, Companies, and Computer Systems That Changed Forever the Practice of Engineering, by Dave Weisberg, was recently released. Most of you who have followed the CAD industry to any degree are probably familiar with Dave. He is first and foremost an engineer (he has BS and MS degrees in civil engineering from MIT), and that adds significant credibility to a book of this nature. I've personally known Dave for almost 20 years, and I know that by the time he received his graduate degree, he had a much greater desire to work in the emerging computer industry than to practice civil engineering.

Over the years he did stints at a number of CAD companies in different roles that included planning, marketing, sales, implementation, and software development management positions. His career took a significant change in direction in the early 1990s when he formed Technology Automation Services and began publishing Engineering Automation Report. For the next several years he covered the CAD industry, interviewing many of the people mentioned in his book. In 1994, he acquired the Anderson Report on Computer Graphics, started by Ken Anderson in 1978, and in 1997 he acquired the A-E-C Automation Newsletter, introduced by Ed Forrest in 1977. It was during the early stages of his publishing heyday that I met and worked with Dave as a contributing and lead editor. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Jeffrey Rowe is the principal of Cairowest Group, an independent industrial design, mechanical engineering, and technical communication consulting firm with offices in Colorado and Michigan. You can reach him by e-mail at or by phone at 719.221.1867.


MCAD Modeling:
Do You Need Modeling Standards?

By Mike Hudspeth

Maybe I'm dating myself here, but I remember reading a lot of comic books as a kid. When I finished the exciting story (and was still disappointed because it was a multiparter), I would usually leaf through the advertisements in the back. You know what I'm talking about — x-ray glasses (guaranteed to work) and Sea Monkeys. Nestled among those ads was a small black-and-white comic about this skinny guy who was doing his best to pick up a bikini-clad babe. He would do pretty well until some big muscular guy came up, kicked sand in his face, and took the girl. The skinny guy went out and bought an exercise book (the real reason for the ad) and punched out the bully, winning forever the affections of his paramour.

All three characters in the comic could use some improvement. If the bully had learned to play nice with others, the ad would have been unnecessary. The skinny guy could've gone along his merry way without fear or shame. Of course, if the skinny guy had acquired and maintained good physical and social skills beforehand, the situation might not have occurred in the first place. I guess the real winner of the story is the girl — who, it appears, just wanted the strongest guy. If she had cared for more than muscle, the whole story would've happened differently. Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Webcast: Expert Illustration Using Deep Exploration v5.5
August 12, 2008
11 a.m. PDT
Attend this webinar to find out how companies are leveraging engineering data and the new capabilities in Deep Exploration v5.5. Read more »

Webcast: MultiCAD/PDM Integration with ProStep
August 26, 2008
11 a.m. PDT
This webinar, presented by Right Hemisphere and ProStep, will show how you can enable your extended enterprise to take full advantage of integrated design and enterprise business data. Read more »

Lean Product Development Conference
November 18-20, 2008
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers' Lean Product Development Conference is a three-day, high-level conference and a forum for sharing tools and best practices for incorporating lean principles in the product development process. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on