|Initial release||December 1982|
|Stable release||2016 / March 20, 2015|
|Operating system||MS Windows, Mac OS X & iOS, Android|
AutoCAD is a commercial software application for 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting — available since 1982 as a desktop application and since 2010 as a mobile web- and cloud-based app marketed as AutoCAD 360.
Developed and marketed by Autodesk, Inc., AutoCAD was first released in December 1982, running on microcomputers with internal graphics controllers. Prior to the introduction of AutoCAD, most commercial CAD programs ran on mainframe computers or minicomputers, with each CAD operator (user) working at a separate graphics terminal.
AutoCAD is used across a wide range of industries, by architects, project managers, engineers, graphic designers, and other professionals. It is supported by 750 training centers worldwide as of 1994.
As Autodesk's flagship product, by March 1986 AutoCAD had become the most ubiquitous CAD program worldwide. As of 2015, AutoCAD is in its thirtieth generation, and collectively with all its variants, continues to be the most widely used CAD program throughout most of the world.
AutoCAD was derived from a program begun in 1977 and released in 1979 called Interact CAD, also referred to in early Autodesk documents as MicroCAD, which was written prior to Autodesk's (then Marinchip Software Partners) formation by Autodesk cofounder Mike Riddle.
The first version by Autodesk was demonstrated at the 1982 Comdex and released that December. The 2016 release marked the 30th major release of AutoCAD for Windows. The 2014 release marked the fourth consecutive year of AutoCAD for Mac.
File formats and versions
The native file format of AutoCAD is .dwg. This and, to a lesser extent, its interchange file format DXF, have become de facto, if proprietary, standards for CAD data interoperability, particularly for 2D drawing exchange. AutoCAD has included support for .dwf, a format developed and promoted by Autodesk, for publishing CAD data.
Autodesk's logo and, respectively, AutoCAD icons have changed for several versions through the years.
|Official Name||Version||Release||Date of release||Comments|
|AutoCAD Version 1.0||1.0||1||1982, December||DWG R1.0 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 1.2||1.2||2||1983, April||DWG R1.2 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 1.3||1.3||3||1983, August||DWG R1.3 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 1.4||1.4||4||1983, October||DWG R1.4 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.0||2.0||5||1984, October||DWG R2.05 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.1||2.1||6||1985, May||DWG R2.1 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.5||2.5||7||1986, June||DWG R2.5 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.6||2.6||8||1987, April||DWG R2.6 file format introduced. Last version to run without a math co-processor.|
|AutoCAD Release 9||9.0||9||1987, September||DWG R9 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Release 10||10.0||10||1988, October||DWG R10 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Release 11||11.0||11||1990, October||DWG R11 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Release 12||12.0||12||1992, June||DWG R11/R12 file format introduced. Last release for Apple Macintosh till 2010.|
|AutoCAD Release 13||13.0||13||1994, November||DWG R13 file format introduced. Last release for Unix, MS-DOS and Windows 3.11.|
|AutoCAD Release 14||14.0||14||1997, February||DWG R14 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2000||15.0||15||1999, March||DWG 2000 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2000i||15.1||16||2000, July|
|AutoCAD 2002||15.2||17||2001, June|
|AutoCAD 2004||16.0||18||2003, March||DWG 2004 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2005||16.1||19||2004, March|
|AutoCAD 2006||16.2||20||2005, March||Dynamic Block introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2007||17.0||21||2006, March||DWG 2007 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2008||17.1||22||2007, March||Annotative Objects introduced. AutoCAD 2008 and higher (including AutoCAD LT) can directly import and underlay DGN V8 files.|
|AutoCAD 2009||17.2||23||2008, March||Revisions to the user interface including the option of a Microsoft Office 2007-like tabbed ribbon.|
|AutoCAD 2010||18.0||24||2009, March 24||DWG 2010 file format introduced. Parametrics introduced. Mesh 3D solid modeling introduced. PDF underlays. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of AutoCAD 2010 and AutoCAD LT 2010 are compatible with and supported under Microsoft Windows 7.|
|AutoCAD 2011||18.1||25||2010, March 25||Surface Modeling, Surface Analysis and Object Transparency introduced. October 15, 2010 AutoCAD 2011 for Mac was released. Are compatible with and supported under Microsoft Windows 7|
|AutoCAD 2012||18.2||26||2011, March 22||Associative Array, Model Documentation. Support for complex line types in DGN files is improved in AutoCAD 2012. DGN editing.|
|AutoCAD 2013||19.0||27||2012, March 27||DWG 2013 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2014||19.1||28||2013, March 26||File Tabs, Design Feed, Reality Capture, Autodesk Live Maps|
|AutoCAD 2015||20.0||29||2014, March 27||Line smoothing (anti-aliasing), Windows 8.1 support added, dropped Windows XP support (incl. compatibility mode)|
|AutoCAD 2016||20.1||30||2015, March 23||More comprehensive canvas, richer design context, and intelligent new tools such as Smart Dimensioning, Coordination Model, and Enhanced PDFs.|
Compatibility with other software
ESRI ArcMap 10 permits export as AutoCAD drawing files. Civil 3D permits export as AutoCAD objects and as LandXML. Third-party file converters exist for specific formats such as Bentley MX GENIO Extension, PISTE Extension (France), ISYBAU (Germany), OKSTRA and Microdrainage (UK).
AutoCAD 2014 and AutoCAD LT 2014 are available for English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional and Brazilian Portuguese. Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian will be available later on. The extent of localization varies from full translation of the product to documentation only. The AutoCAD command set is localized as a part of the software localization.
AutoCAD supports a number of APIs for customization and automation. These include AutoLISP, Visual LISP, VBA, .NET and ObjectARX. ObjectARX is a C++ class library, which was also the base for: (a) products extending AutoCAD functionality to specific fields; (b) creating products such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D; or (c) third-party AutoCAD-based application. There are a large number of AutoCAD plugins (add-on applications) available on the application store Autodesk Exchange Apps . AutoCAD's DXF, drawing exchange file, allows importing and exporting drawing information.
Autodesk has also developed a few vertical programs (AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD ecscad, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Structural Detailing, AutoCAD Utility Design, AutoCAD P&ID and AutoCAD Plant 3D) for discipline-specific enhancements. For example, AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop) permits architectural designers to draw 3D objects, such as walls, doors and windows, with more intelligent data associated with them rather than simple objects, such as lines and circles. The data can be programmed to represent specific architectural products sold in the construction industry, or extracted into a data file for pricing, materials estimation, and other values related to the objects represented. Additional tools generate standard 2D drawings, such as elevations and sections, from a 3D architectural model. Similarly, Civil Design, Civil Design 3D, and Civil Design Professional support data-specific objects, facilitating easy standard civil engineering calculations and representations. Civil 3D was originally developed as an AutoCAD add-on by a company in New Hampshire called Softdesk (originally DCA). Softdesk was acquired by Autodesk, and Civil 3D was further evolved.
AutoCAD LT is the lower cost version of AutoCAD, with reduced capabilities, first released in November 1993. Autodesk developed AutoCAD LT to have an entry-level CAD package to compete in the lower price level. AutoCAD LT, priced at $495, became the first AutoCAD product priced below $1000. It is sold directly by Autodesk and can also be purchased at computer stores (unlike the full version of AutoCAD, which must be purchased from official Autodesk dealers).
As of the 2011 release the AutoCAD LT MSRP has risen to $1200. While there are hundreds of small differences between the full AutoCAD package and AutoCAD LT, there are a few recognized major differences in the software's features:
- 3D Capabilities: AutoCAD LT lacks the ability to create, visualize and render 3D models as well as 3D printing.
- Network Licensing: AutoCAD LT cannot be used on multiple machines over a network.
- Customization: AutoCAD LT does not support customization with LISP, ARX, and VBA.
- Management and automation capabilities with Sheet Set Manager and Action Recorder.
- CAD standards management tools.
AutoCAD LT 2015 introduced Desktop Subscription from $360 per year
Formerly marketed as AutoCAD WS, AutoCAD 360 is an account-based mobile and web application enabling registered users to view, edit, and share AutoCAD files via mobile device and web using a limited AutoCAD feature set — and using cloud-stored drawing files. The program, which is an evolution and combination of previous products, uses a freemium business model with a free plan and two paid levels — marketed as Pro ($4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly) and Pro Plus ($99.99 yearly) — including various amounts of storage, tools, and online access to drawings. 360 includes new features such as a "Smart Pen" mode and linking to third-party cloud-based storage such as Dropbox. Having evolved from Flash-based software, AutoCAD 360 uses HTML5 browser technology available in newer browsers including Firefox and Google Chrome.
AutoCAD WS began with a version for the iPhone and subsequently expanded to include versions for the iPod Touch, iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets. Autodesk released the iOS version in September 2010, following with the Android version on April 20, 2011. The program is available via download at no cost from the App Store (iOS), Google Play (Android) and Amazon Appstore (Android).
In its initial iOS version, AutoCAD WS supported drawing of lines, circles, and other shapes; creation of text and comment boxes; and management of color, layer, and measurements — in both landscape and portrait modes. Version 1.3, released August 17, 2011, added support of unit typing, layer visibility, area measurement and file management. The Android variant includes the iOS feature set along with such unique features as the ability to insert text or captions by voice command as well as manually. Both Android and iOS versions allow the user to save files on-line — or off-line in the absence of an Internet connection.
According to a 2013 interview with Ilai Rotbaein, an AutoCAD WS Product Manager for Autodesk, the name AutoCAD WS had no definitive meaning, and was interpreted variously as Autodesk Web Service, White Sheet or Work Space.
AutoCAD is licensed, for free, to qualifying students and teachers, with a 18-month renewable license available. The student version of AutoCAD is functionally identical to the full commercial version, with one exception: DWG files created or edited by a student version have an internal bit-flag set (the "educational flag"). When such a DWG file is printed by any version of AutoCAD (commercial or student) older than AutoCAD 2014 SP1, the output includes a plot stamp / banner on all four sides. Objects created in the Student Version cannot be used for commercial use. Student Version objects "infect" a commercial version DWG file if it is imported in older versions than AutoCAD 2015.
The Autodesk Education Community provides registered students and faculty with free access to different Autodesk applications.
AutoCAD is a software package created for Windows and usually any new AutoCAD version supports the current Windows version and some older ones. AutoCAD 2016 supports Windows 7 up to Windows 10.
Autodesk stopped supporting Apple's computers in 1994. Over the next several years, no compatible versions for Macintosh computers were released. In 2010 Autodesk announced that it would once again support Apple's Mac OS X software in the future. Most of the features found in the 2012 Windows version can be found in the 2012 Mac version. The main difference is the user interface and layout of the program. The interface is designed so that users who are already familiar with Apple's OS X software will find it similar to other Mac applications. Autodesk has also built in various features in order to take full advantage of Apple's Trackpad capabilities as well as the full-screen mode in Apple's OS X Lion. AutoCAD 2012 for Mac supports both the editing and saving of files in DWG formatting that will allow the file to be compatible with other platforms besides the OS X. AutoCAD 2014 for Mac supports Apple Mac OS X v10.9.0 or later (Mavericks), OS X v10.8.0 or later (Mountain Lion) with 64-bit Intel processor.
AutoCAD LT 2013 is now available through the Mac App Store for $899.99. The full featured version of AutoCAD 2013 for Mac, however, is not available through the Mac App Store due to the price limit of $999 set by Apple. AutoCAD 2014 for Mac is available for purchase from Autodesk's Web site for $4,195 and AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac for $1,200, or from an Autodesk Authorized Reseller.
- 3ds Max
- AutoCAD Architecture
- Autodesk Maya
- Autodesk Revit
- Comparison of computer-aided design editors
- Design Web Format
- Tekla Structures
- "Autodesk, Inc". FundingUniverse. Lendio. 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "Part 2 CAD/CAM/CAE", 25 Year retrospective, Computer Graphics World, 2011, retrieved 29 March 2012
- Riddle, Michael. "About". Retrieved 24 January 2014.
I’ve been building CAD products for over 29 years now, starting with Interact for the Marinchip 9900 released back in 1979, one of the first PC-based CAD programs available. Interact went on to become the architectural basis for the early versions of AutoCAD. I was one of the original 18 founders of that company.
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- Overview of Plotting
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|Wikibooks has more on the topic of: AutoCAD|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to AutoCAD.|
- AutoCAD Official Website
- AutoCAD LT
- AutoCAD 360
- Hurley, Shaan, "AutoCAD History", Between the lines, Blogs.
on Michael Riddle and Interact: