Fall COMDEX 1984

Introduction of AutoCAD 2 and CAD/camera

by John Walker

These are pictures of Autodesk's exhibit at the 1984 Fall COMDEX show in Las Vegas in late November. This was two years after AutoCAD was launched at COMDEX in 1982. How far we'd come! Then we had a 10×10 foot booth (the smallest available) on the other side of the vast hall. Now we were on the main floor with the big guys, in a suitably expansive booth. In keeping with Autodesk tradition, the booth was jammed for almost the entire show. (The pictures where it's almost empty were taken before the show opened.)

This was the first public showing of “AutoCAD 2”: version 2.0, which introduced features including object snap, database attributes, dragging, named layers, multiple text fonts, line types, and the extensible new-format DXF. This release was the first to use the “ADE” (Advanced Drafting Extensions) nomenclature, as we bundled most of the goodies into that extra cost add-on which had previously just contained dimensioning.

We also showed a preview of “3D Level 1”, the 2½ dimensional extrusion capability which would ship in May 1985 with AutoCAD 2.1. This was also the first public demonstration of CAD/camera, which would not ship to customers until July 1985.

These pictures were taken by John Walker with a Kodak Disc Camera, a transient and unlamented fad of the 1980s. A glance at the quality of the photos makes it evident why this format never caught on. These photographs are in the public domain.

Image 1

This photo was taken in the “hostility suite” in an adjacent hotel the night before we set up the booth. This is the Datacopy camera which we used to demonstrate CAD/camera. It used a linear CCD array and a scanning mirror to produce high-resolution (for the time) scans of paper documents on the copy stand. I was apparently trying to get it working with the PC you can see torn apart in the background. At the left is my signature Anvil briefcase, which was in much better shape then than today, and that most essential piece of trade show survival kit, a roll of duct tape.

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

Image 6

Image 7

Image 8

Image 9

Image 10

Image 11

Image 12

Image 13