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Autodesk, Inc.
NASDAQ-100 Component
S&P 500 Component
Industry Computer software
Founded January 30, 1982; 35 years ago (1982-01-30)
Mill Valley, California, U.S.
Founders John Walker, Dan Drake
Headquarters San Rafael, California, U.S.
Key people

Crawford W. Beveridge
Andrew Anagnost
(Interim Joint CEO)

Amar Hanspal
(Interim Joint CEO)
Products See text
  • Increase US$2.512 billion (2014)[1]
  • Increase US$2.312 billion (2013)[1]
  • Decrease US$284.8 million (2014)[1]
  • Decrease US$305.9 million (2013)[1]
  • Decrease US$228.8 million (2014)[1]
  • Decrease US$247.4 million (2013)[1]
Total assets
  • Increase US$4.595 billion (2014)[2]
  • Increase US$4.308 billion (2013)[1]
Total equity
  • Increase US$2.261 billion (2014)[2]
  • Increase US$2.043 billion (2013)[1]
Number of employees
9,000+ (2016)[3]

Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational software corporation that makes software for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries. Autodesk is headquartered in San Rafael, California, and features a gallery of its customers' work[4] in its San Francisco building. The company has offices worldwide, with U.S. locations in Northern California, Oregon, Colorado, Texas and in New England in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and Canada locations in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta.

The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, a coauthor of the first versions of AutoCAD, the company's flagship computer-aided design (CAD) software. Its AutoCAD and Revit software is primarily used by architects, engineers, and structural designers to design, draft, and model buildings and other structures. Autodesk software has been used in many fields, from the New York Freedom Tower[5] to Tesla electric cars.[6]

Autodesk became best known for AutoCAD but now develops a broad range of software for design, engineering, and entertainment as well as a line of software for consumers, including Sketchbook, Homestyler, and Pixlr. The company makes educational versions of its software available at no cost to qualified students and faculty through the Autodesk Education Community, and also as a donation to eligible nonprofits through TechSoup Global. Autodesk's digital prototyping software, including Autodesk Inventor, Fusion 360, and the Autodesk Product Design Suite, are used in the manufacturing industry to visualize, simulate, and analyze real-world performance using a digital model during the design process.[7] The company's Revit line of software for Building Information Modeling is designed to let users explore the planning, construction, and management of a building virtually before it is built.[8]

Autodesk's Media and Entertainment division creates software for visual effects, color grading, and editing as well as animation, game development, and design visualization.[9] 3ds Max and Maya are both 3D animation software used in film visual effects and game development.



A screenshot of AutoCAD, Autodesk's flagship product.

Platform Solutions and Emerging Business (PSEB) division develops and manages the product foundation for most Autodesk offerings across multiple markets, including Autodesk's flagship product AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, AutoCAD for Mac, and AutoCAD 360. Autodesk Suites, Subscription and Web Services, which includes Autodesk Cloud, Autodesk Labs, and Global Engineering are also part of PSEB. In what was seen as an unusual step for a maker of high-end business software, Autodesk began offering AutoCAD LT 2012 for Mac through the Apple Mac App Store.[10] Also part of PSEB is the Autodesk Consumer Product Group, which was created in November 2010 to generate interest in 3-D design and “foster a new wave of designers who hunger for sophisticated software”.[11] The products from the group include 123D, Fluid FX, Homestyler, Pixlr, and SketchBook. Users range from children, students and artists to makers and DIYers.[12]

Architecture, engineering and construction[edit]

The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry group is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, in a LEED Platinum building[13] designed and built using Autodesk software.[14] Autodesk's architecture, engineering, and construction solutions include AutoCAD-based design and documentation software such as AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop), AutoCAD MEP[15] (formerly Autodesk Building Systems), and AutoCAD Civil 3D. Their flagship product for relational Building information modeling is Revit. Revit is available as Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, Revit MEP or an all-in-one product. The AEC division also develops and manages software for the Construction industry, including Buzzsaw, Constructware, and the NavisWorks (acquired 2007) product tools; the Infrastructure industry, including AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Map3D, and AutoCAD MapGuide Enterprise; and the Plant industry, including AutoCAD P&ID and AutoCAD Plant 3D. Projects that have used software from the Autodesk AEC division include the NASA Ames building,[16] the San Francisco Bay Bridge,[17] the Shanghai Tower, and New York’s Freedom Tower.[18]


Autodesk's manufacturing industry group is headquartered in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The company's manufacturing software is used in various manufacturing segments, including industrial machinery, electro-mechanical, tool and die, industrial equipment, automotive components, and consumer products. Products include Fusion 360, the Autodesk Product Design Suite, Autodesk Factory Design Suite, Autodesk Inventor Suite, Autodesk Inventor Professional Suite, AutoCAD Mechanical, Autodesk Vault, Alias Products, Simulation Mechanical, CFD, and Moldflow.

Media and entertainment[edit]

Autodesk Media and Entertainment products are designed for digital media creation, management, and delivery, from film and television visual effects, color grading, and editing to animation, game development, and design visualization. Autodesk’s Media and Entertainment Division is based in Montreal, Quebec. It was established in 1999 after Autodesk, Inc. acquired Discreet Logic, Inc. and merged its operations with Kinetix. In January 2006, Autodesk acquired Alias, a developer of 3D graphics technology. In October 2008, Autodesk acquired the Softimage brand from Avid. The principal product offerings from the Media and Entertainment Division are the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites, which include Maya, Softimage, 3ds Max, Mudbox, Smoke, Flame, and Lustre.

Much of Avatar's visual effects were created with Autodesk media and entertainment software. Autodesk software enabled Avatar director James Cameron to aim a camera at actors wearing motion-capture suits in a studio and see them as characters in the fictional world of Pandora in the film.[19] Autodesk software also played a role in the visual effects of Alice in Wonderland, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Inception, Iron Man 2, King Kong, Gladiator, Titanic, and other films.[20]

In 2011, Autodesk acquired a cloud-based set of image tools and utilities called Pixlr.[21]


Autodesk develops and purchased many specific-purpose renderers but many Autodesk products are bundled with third-party renderers such as NVIDIA MentalRay or Iray.

  • Autodesk Raytracer (ART; aka RapidRT[22]) - a simple pathtracing renderer which is based on Opticore technology.[23][24]
  • Autodesk A360 Rendering - a simple cloud renderer
  • Lagoa MultiOptics Renderer - a cloud renderer for visualization
  • Autodesk VRED - a OpenGL/offline renderer which supports direct NURBS raytracing
    • RenderGin (formerly Augenblick MMV) - a discontinued realtime NURBS raytracing renderer; the technology was merged into VRED.[26]
  • Autodesk Realtime Renderer (formerly VSR Realtime Renderer) - a raytracing renderer for Rhinoceros 3D
  • Arnold Renderer - a CPU-only mono-directional pathtracing renderer for animation and visual effects
  • Turtle - a primary texture-baking renderer in Maya LT
  • Beast - a lighting middleware with lightmap-baking renderer
  • Maya Software - a scanline/raytracing hybrid renderer in Maya
  • 3ds Max Scanline - a scanline/raytracing/radiosity hybrid renderer in 3ds Max
    • Lightscape - a discontinued radiosity renderer; its technologies were merged within Autodesk VIZ (later 3ds Max Design).[27]
  • Maya Vector - a vector renderer based on Electric Rain's RAViX technology.[28]
  • Maya Hardware 1.0 - a legacy GPU renderer in Maya
  • One Graphics System - a GPU photorealistic/non-photorealistic renderer, aka Nitrous/Quicksilver[29] in 3ds Max and Viewport 2.0/Hardware 2.0 in Maya

Discontinued products[edit]

Some of Autodesk's "retired" products are listed here:

  • Lightscape 3.2 Was the world's only radiosity rendering package at the time (1991) developed from work done by Donald Greenberg at the Cornell University Department of Computer Graphics. The problem with this part of Autodesk's history is that it was a time of discovery in computer graphics, and Cornell was one of the birthplaces for the technology. In this sense Lightscape was more than just another product, it was an essential part of the development of rendering technology generally, and part of its evolution. Additionally the software came from a university research department and represented the start of a development cycle that users the world over were watching closely. Regardless, Autodesk purchased rights to the software and promptly discontinued its sale. A very primitive version of the radiosity renderer was incorporated into the companies 3d Studio Max product, whilst existing Lightscape customers and the product were simply dropped. The most likely reason for this was that Lightscape offered a number of features that were simply too ahead of its time and therefore did not offer the optimum economic return for the company.
  • Volo View was a web-enabled review and markup tool from Autodesk for engineering data, including support for Autodesk's DWG, DXF, and DWF formats. Volo View enabled design teams to communicate ideas and review designs without access to AutoCAD software. Autodesk discontinued sales of Volo View on May 1, 2005. The latest version of the software, Volo View 3, worked with the following file formats: AutoCAD 2004, DWG and DXF; Design Web Format (DWF 6); Autodesk Inventor 7 IPT, IAM, and IDW and raster files. The functionality of this product is largely replaced by Autodesk DWF Composer (versions 1 and 2) later replaced by the free Autodesk Design Review. Autodesk has also released a free product called DWG TrueView. This product enables users to view and plot AutoCAD DWG and DXF files, and to publish these same files to the DWF file format.
  • Autodesk Animator Pro (DOS) and Autodesk Animator Studio (Windows) were products designed for cell based animation produced between the early-to-mid-1990s. At the time Autodesk was also advertising an Autodesk Media product similar in description to Macromedia Director but this product was never released to the public.
  • Cyberspace by Autodesk was an early real-time 3D environment capable of producing basic phong shaded walkthroughs of DXF format models in "realtime". No textures were supported, and the system was able to support a maximum DXF model size of around 35 KB.[citation needed] A popular demo model of the Parthenon in Greece was shown around the United States in a tour of the portable demo system – complete with virtual reality goggles.
  • AutoCAD Survey (Autodesk Survey)
  • Civil Design
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D Land Desktop Companion (AutoCAD Land Desktop)
  • AutoCAD Freestyle, released in April 26, 2010 and discontinued January 31, 2011.
  • Inventor Fusion was discontinued August 23, 2014 due to redundancies with Fusion 360.[30]
  • Sketchbook designer has been discontinued as of November 1, 2012[31]
  • Softimage was discontinued after the release of Softimage 2015 in April 14, 2014.
    • Face Robot
  • Autodesk Stitcher Unlimited
  • Autodesk ImageModeler
  • Autodesk Movimento (formerly Realviz Movimento)
  • Autodesk Combustion
    • Discreet Effect (formerly Illuminaire Composition)
    • Discreet Paint (formerly Illuminaire Paint)
  • Cleaner Streaming Studio
    • Cleaner Live
    • Cleaner
    • Cinestream (formerly EditDV)
  • 3D software for game modification
    • gmax
    • Maya PLE[32]
    • XSI Mod Tool
  • Autodesk Opticore Realizer (formerly Opus Realizer)
  • Autodesk Opticore Studio (formerly Opus Studio)
  • FBX Converter
  • FBX QuickTime Viewer
  • Autodesk Scaleform Unity Integration[33]
  • Autodesk Remote[34]
  • Autodesk 123D
    • Autodesk 3D Print Utility - its features were merged into the Meshmixer.[35]
    • Autodesk 123D CNC Utility
    • Autodesk 123D Sculpt+ (formerly 123D Sculpt and Sculpt 123D)
    • Autodesk 123D Make - its slice feature was now in "Slicer for Fusion 360" add-in.[36][37]
    • Autodesk 123D Catch (formerly Project Photofly)
  • Autodesk plug-ins for Rhino
    • Autodesk T-Splines Plug-in for Rhino[38]
    • Autodesk Shape Modeling Plug-in for Rhino[38] (formerly VSR Shape Modeling)
    • Autodesk Realtime Renderer[38] (formerly VSR Realtime Renderer)
  • Autodesk Spark[39] - the 3D Print API in Autodesk Forge was also EOLed.[40]
  • Print Studio[41] - the tool was replaced by Netfabb.[41]
  • Autodesk Footwear (formerly Delcam Crispin[42])[43]
  • Pixlr for Desktop[44]

Maintenance-mode products[edit]

Sold-out products[edit]

  • Autodesk Seek - acquired by BIMobject AB.[46][47]
  • Autodesk Pixlr - acquired by 123RF.[48]


Autodesk's first notable product was AutoCAD, a computer-aided design application designed to run on the systems known as "microcomputers" at the time, including those running the 8-bit CP/M operating system and two of the new 16-bit systems, the Victor 9000 and the IBM Personal Computer (PC). This tool allowed users to create detailed technical drawings, and was affordable to many smaller design, engineering, and architecture companies.

Release 2.1 of AutoCAD, released in 1986, included AutoLISP, a built-in Lisp programming language interpreter initially based on XLISP.[49] This opened the door for third party developers to extend AutoCAD's functionality, to address a wide range of vertical markets, strengthening AutoCAD's market penetration.

Subsequent to AutoCAD Release 13, the company stopped supporting the Unix environment and the Apple Macintosh platform. After AutoCAD Release 14 (R13 was last DOS & Unix release), first shipped in 1997, Autodesk discontinued development under MS-DOS, and focused exclusively on Microsoft Windows.

AutoCAD has grown to become the most widely used CAD program for 2D non-specialized applications.[50] The native file formats written by AutoCAD, DXF and DWG, are also widely used for CAD data interoperability.

In the 1990s, with the purchase of Softdesk in 1997, Autodesk started to develop specialty versions of AutoCAD, targeted to broad industry segments, including architecture, civil engineering, and manufacturing. Since the late 1990s, the company has added a number of significant non-AutoCAD-based products, including Revit, a parametric building modeling application (acquired in 2002, from Massachusetts-based Revit Technologies for $133 million), and Inventor, an internally developed parametric mechanical design CAD application.

In Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., Autodesk was sued in 2007 by Timothy Vernor, who alleged that he was entitled to sell on eBay "used" copies of AutoCAD software he had obtained at an office liquidation sale from an Autodesk licensee.[51] A federal district judge in Washington state denied Autodesk's initial motion to dismiss in early 2008. In February and March 2009, both sides filed motions for summary judgment addressing the issue whether the First Sale Doctrine applies to previously licensed software.[52] The Court ruled in Vernor's favor, holding that when the transfer of software to the purchaser materially resembled a sale (non-recurring price, right to perpetual possession of copy) it was, in fact, a "sale with restrictions on use"[53] giving rise to a right to resell the copy under the first-sale doctrine. As such, Autodesk could not pursue an action for copyright infringement against Vernor, who sought to resell used versions of its software on eBay. The decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which reversed the lower court ruling, denying Vernor the right to resale Autodesk software on eBay due to Autodesk's nontransferable licensing restrictions.[54] In October 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.[55]

Autodesk introduced its current logo at the TED conference in Long Beach, California on February 26, 2013.[56][57][58]

Corporate acquisitions[edit]

  • On October 16, 1992, Autodesk acquired Micro Engineering Solutions (MES) Inc., a leading developer and marketer of manufacturing CAD / CAM software founded by Lynn and Jim Hock and Bill Harris, and headed by president and CEO Ken Spenser[59][60][61]
  • On August 4, 1993, Autodesk acquired Ithaca Software, a 3D computer graphics company founded by Autodesk's current CEO Carl Bass and Garry Wiegand.[62][63]
  • On December 10, 1996, Autodesk announced its plan to acquire Softdesk, a developer of architecture, engineering and construction software.[64]
  • On May 6, 1998, Autodesk acquired assets of Genius CAD-Software GmbH related to the mechanical application business for 68 Mio Euro in cash. The assets were used to strengthen the functionality of its core mechanical products.[65]
  • On March 16, 1999, Autodesk acquired Discreet Logic Inc. (Nasdaq: DSLGF)for an undisclosed amount.[citation needed][66]
  • On April 22, 1999, Autodesk acquired VISION* Solutions, a vendor of enterprise automated mapping/facilities management/geographic information systems (AM/FM/GIS) solutions based, from MCI Systemhouse Corp., MCI WorldCom's global information technology company, for $26 million.[66]
  • On January 24, 2001, Autodesk acquired Gentry Systems, a supplier of specialized software tools and services in the electric utility industry for an undisclosed amount. The asset were used to strengthen Autodesk's position in the utility industry.[66]
  • On September 24, 2001, Autodesk acquired Buzzsaw for $18 million.
  • On February 21, 2002, Autodesk acquired Revit Technology Corporation a Massachusetts-based developer of parametric building technology for building design, construction, and management, for $133 million in cash.
  • On August 6, 2002, Autodesk acquired CAiCE Software Corporation, a developer of surveying and engineering applications for transportation agencies and consultants, for approximately $10 million in cash.
  • On December 18, 2002, Autodesk acquired the assets of truEInnovations, Inc for an undisclosed amount. The assets were used to create the application Autodesk Vault.
  • On March 4, 2003, Autodesk acquired Linius Technologies, Inc. and purchased certain assets of a third software company—VIA Development Corporation, for an undisclosed amount.
  • On February 24, 2004, Autodesk acquired MechSoft, Inc., an Autodesk Inventor(R) Certified Applications Program partner and developer of the MechSoft product.
  • On March 2005, Autodesk acquired the assets of COMPASS systems GmbH for 13 Mio Euro, a European-based developer of the COMPASS family of data management solutions. The assets were used to strengthen Autodesk's position in the European product data management market.[67]
  • On January 10, 2006, Autodesk acquired Alias, with its automotive styling and digital content creation applications such as FBX file format, for $197 million USD.[68]
  • On August 6, 2007, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Skymatter Inc, developer of Mudbox.[69]
  • On August 9, 2007, Autodesk Completes Acquisition of NavisWorks Limited for a purchase price of $26 million, plus a working capital adjustment.[70]
  • On August 20, 2007, Autodesk announced that it has completed the acquisition of technology and product assets of Opticore AB, based in Gothenburg, Sweden.[71] Opticore is specialized in real time visualisation primarily for the carmakers industry.
  • On August 28, 2007, Autodesk announced the acquisition of California-based PlassoTech, developers of CAE applications. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.[72]
  • On November 25, 2007, Autodesk announced the intent to acquire Robobat, a France-based developer of structural engineering analysis applications. The acquisition was completed on January 15, 2008.[73][74]
  • On February 12, 2008 Autodesk announces that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Carmel Software Corporation.
  • On May 1, 2008, Autodesk announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Moldflow Corporation, a leading provider of injection molding simulation software.[75]
  • On May 7, 2008, Autodesk announced that it has completed the acquisition of Kynogon SA, the privately held maker of Kynapse artificial intelligence middleware.[76] Paris-based Kynogon specialized in video game middleware and simulation.
  • The same day, Autodesk also announced the acquisition of REALVIZ S.A.[77] REALVIZ was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Sophia Antipolis, France. REALVIZ's flagship products are "Stitcher" software for the creation of panoramas and 360 degree virtual tours, and "ImageModeler" software to produce 3D models from photographs.
  • On June 26, 2008, a press release announced the acquisition of Square One Research and its flagship product, Ecotect.[78]
  • On October 23, 2008, Autodesk announced the acquisition on Avid's Softimage, Co. business, developers of 3D application Softimage (formerly Softimage|XSI), for $35 million USD.[79]
  • On December 15, 2008, Autodesk announced the acquisition of BIMWorld, plans to combine BIMWorld with Autodesk Seek.[63]
  • On December 17, 2008, Autodesk signed a definitive agreement to acquire ALGOR, Inc. for approximately $34 million.[80]
  • On December 2009, Autodesk announced the acquisition of VisualTAO (also known as PlanPlatform), an Israeli start-up that developed a cloud-based Web application, enabling users to view and edit AutoCAD files online. The company also developed a mobile version of the application. VisualTAO became part of PSEB, and the product was released during 2010 as "AutoCAD WS".[81]
  • On July 21, 2010, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Illuminate Labs, the maker of Beast (a global illumination middleware) and Turtle (a global illumination plugin for Maya) used for video game development.[82]
  • On February 17, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc., a leading provider of simulation software, for approximately $39 million in cash.[83]
  • On March 1, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Scaleform, a UI middleware for video games.[84]
  • On July 19, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Pixlr, online photo editing and sharing service.[85]
  • On August 1, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Instructables, a website and platform where users can share their ideas and collaborate with a variety of do-it-yourself projects.[86]
  • On August 25, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Numenus, which optimizes CAD and construction processes by using NURBS technology.[87]
  • On November 6, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Grip Entertainment, which develops behavior control systems for computer-controlled characters in video games.[88]
  • On December 16, 2011, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Horizontal Systems, a provider of cloud-based BIM (Building Information Modeling) collaboration solutions for the AEC (architecture, engineering and construction) industry.[89]
  • On October 4, 2012, Autodesk announced the acquisition of Qontext, Inc., an enterprise social collaboration platform to accelerate Autodesk’s ongoing move to the cloud and expansion of social capabilities in the Autodesk 360 cloud-based service.[90]
  • On March 19, 2013, Autodesk completed the acquisition of Firehole Technologies, a developer of design and analysis software for composite materials.[91]
  • On May 18, 2013, TinkerCAD announced it had been bought by Autodesk.[92] TinkerCAD is a browser-based 3D solid modelling tool for rapid prototyping known for its simple interface and entry-level ease of use.[93]
  • On October 2, 2013, Autodesk signs agreement to acquire structural fabrication and detailing software- Advance Steel from Graitec.[94]
  • On February 6, 2014, Autodesk completed the acquisition of Delcam, a UK based supplier of advanced CAD/CAM software for the manufacturing industry, for approximately $286 million, using non-U.S.-based cash.[95]
  • On March 19, 2014, Creative Market announced it had been bought by Autodesk.[96] Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world.
  • On May 2014, Autodesk acquired Within Technologies, a company founded by Siavash Haroun Mahdavi, for $88 million. [97]
  • On June 25, 2014, Shotgun Software announced that it had been acquired by Autodesk.[98] Shotgun Software are the publishers of the popular "Shotgun" project tracking software for media and entertainment content creation.
  • On August 27, 2015, Autodesk signs agreement to acquire SeeControl.[99]
  • On April 18, 2016, Autodesk announced that it had acquired SolidAngle, creator of "Arnold" rendering software.[100]
  • On June 27, 2016, Autodesk acquired Cadsoft Computer from Premier Farnell.[101]


Autodesk's Simulation CFD includes modeling and thermal modeling tools for architectural and MEP applications. Common applications for environmental sustainable design include mechanical ventilation, external flow (wind loading), natural ventilation, and occupant comfort. Other energy applications include analysis for building energy, solar load, advanced energy and heating and cooling.[102][103] Autodesk introduced C-FACT, an open-source, science-driven approach to setting greenhouse gas reduction targets, which calls for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions to be made in proportion to a company’s gross domestic product (GDP). Unlike other carbon accounting methods, Autodesk’s C-FACT measures carbon dioxide emissions that are proportional to a company’s global GDP contribution.[104] Autodesk will derive its own targets using this approach through 2020.

In 2006 Autodesk sponsored a PBS program named e² Design,[105] which focused on going green in building designs around the world where viewers learn about the leaders and technologies driving sustainable design.

See also[edit]


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