I am at our Portland office today, and Autodesk is 37 years old today. The company was started on January 30, 1982. In honor of the day, we're supposed to wear our oldest Autodesk shirt.
I have several old ones to choose from:
- HEIDI (HOOPS Extensible Immediate Drawing Interface) is the oldest, but few employees know about the graphics system that was the basis for the original release of 3D Studio Max and the AutoCAD R13 ADI driver that was shipped as part of correction release 3 in early 1995.
- The WHIP! Netscape Navigator Plug-in wasn't until later in 1995. If you want to read a funny story, check out Birth of DWF: "I can have Carol call you."
- The AutoCAD R14 shirt from 1997 would bring back a bunch of pleasant memories. R14 was the release where we dropped DOS (our most popular platform by far) and went Windows-only (also dropping other platforms like Unix) because we recognized that Windows would eventually dominate the PC industry.
AutoCAD R13 was not Autodesk's finest hour. The release was slow, required too much memory, buggy, and late. To ensure that history did not repeat itself, AutoCAD R14 was developed with a tightly controlled process. Tribunals and reviews were held to ensure quality and on-time delivery. "Smaller, faster, cleaner" was our guiding principle. One of the bravest decisions I have ever witnessed was when Software Development Director, Ajay Kela, decided to replace the graphics system in AutoCAD. The existing system had been developed over a number of years, had a long legacy of customer expectations for exactly how it was to operate, and an entire industry (development of ADI drivers) had sprung up around it. The problem was that its architecture was antiquated given the more graphics-rich models being designed by AutoCAD customers and advances in graphics technology. The development of the replacement system completed near the latter part of the project (the risk), but its performance was so much faster than the existing code (the reward), that Ajay pulled the trigger and opted to include the new system in the AutoCAD release even though its lateness was out of process. The new system was indeed smaller, faster, and cleaner.
Perhaps this incorporation date is why the Autodesk fiscal year runs from February 1 through January 31. We're about to start FY20.
A birthday celebration is alive in the lab.