AutoCAD is a general purpose computer aided design and drafting software package. It provides the functions of a graphic editing system with attached database which form the core of every computer aided design system.
AutoCAD was designed to run on desktop computers, but does not contain any design limitations except those imposed by the present capacity of such machines. The designers' extensive experience in systems programming enabled the removal of limits in the software without degrading performance in the desktop environment.
For example, many early competitor programs imposed limits on the maximum size of a drawing which could be created or on the accuracy of the coordinates stored in a drawing. AutoCAD imposes no practical limit on either. Most early micro-based programs did not allow the user to modify the menus, or the help text, or design custom templates. AutoCAD allows all of these. The Company feels the success of AutoCAD to date expresses the market's verdict that these features are essential in serious design work.
AutoCAD is entirely written in the C programming language, is presently over 100,000 lines of source code (some small machine interface routines for some implementations are in assembly language).
AutoCAD is microcomputer software only in the fact that it runs on microcomputers and that it exhibits the characteristics of ease of learning and use, good documentation, and user training tools one usually associates with microcomputer software. Its complexity, internal design, extensibility, and the general techniques used in its construction would normally identify the software as a mainframe or supermini package. As a result of AutoCAD's design, when presented with additional hardware resources such as higher resolution displays, faster processors, higher capacity internal memory (RAM), or larger discs, it automatically takes advantage of these resources and delivers their benefits to the user without software modification. AutoCAD's present internal design should easily accommodate the projected advances in these areas for the next decade. Thus, if run on a microcomputer, AutoCAD is a microcomputer CAD package. If moved to a minicomputer, it competes with other minicomputer CAD packages, and if moved to a mainframe, it becomes a mainframe CAD system. This, combined with AutoCAD's demonstrated portability, allows Autodesk to provide a compatible solution to the CAD industry on systems ranging from briefcase to room size.
The Company is committed to extending the capabilities of AutoCAD as well as the selection of hardware it supports. For example, the release of AutoCAD release 2.1 in May 1985 added three dimensional capabilities to the package, facilities essential for efficient use of drawings scanned by CAD/camera and for use with numerically controlled machines, and an initial version of what will soon become the full integration of the LISP language with AutoCAD. LISP is the first in a series of languages to be interfaced to AutoCAD, allowing users, OEMs, systems houses, and third party software developers access to the full capabilities of AutoCAD from their programs. Since LISP is the language of choice in artificial intelligence research, its provision within AutoCAD places AutoCAD on the leading edge of applying these techniques to the design process. The Company believes that the facilities these language interfaces will provide to application developers to be unique in the CAD industry, regardless of the scale of the system.
Editor: John Walker