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Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) began around 1957 and 1960 when first CAD and CAM software packages were introduced.

First CAM software PRONTO was developed by Patrick J. Hanratty who is frequently called a “Father of CAD/CAM”. According to research from University of California nearly 70% of all CAD/CAM software available today in some way or another use Hanratty’s original code. Besides developing PRONTO Patrick is also known for developing ADAM (Automated Drafting and Machining) CAD/CAM software in 1971. This software became very successful and was licensed by multiple businesses to be used as part of their software packages.

Another revolutionary CAD software was written by Ivan Sutherland in 1963. This software was called Sketchpad and was written as part of Ivan’s PhD thesis, for which he received Turing Award and Kyoto Prize. Sketchpad introduced the revolutionary concept of interaction between human and CAD/CAM software. Sketchpad used light pen to control the cursor on the screen and draw various geometrical shapes. Besides concept of drawing with light pen Sketchpad also introduced geometric constraints, like fixed length of a line or an angle between two lines. Also, Sketchpad had concept of master object and its instances which also lay ground for object-oriented programming. Below is a demo of Sketchpad which shows various GUI concept which its introduced.

Further major steps after PRONTO and SketchPad were ADAM and IGES. IGES was a first major standard allowing transfer of 3D designs between various CAD/CAM packages.

AutoCAD by Autodesk was introduced in 1982 and was the first 2D CAD software for PC. Before AutoCAD all CAD/CAM software was written for mainframes only. Solidworks is another noticeable software for CAD/CAM which made CAD accessible to many engineers across industries.

In 1994 Autodesk AutoCAD R13 was released which was the first 3D compatible AutoCAD release.

In 2012 Autodesk released Autodesk 360 which became a first major cloud based CAD software package.

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AutoCAD Drawing File Format
MIME Type
  • application/acad
  • application/x-acad
  • application/autocad_dwg
  • image/x-dwg
  • application/dwg
  • application/x-dwg
  • application/x-autocad
  • image/vnd.dwg
  • drawing/dwg
Opens with
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  • DWG TrueView
  • Autodesk Online Viewer