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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Quarter Century Ago Today

Twenty-five years ago today, January 30th, 1982, the initial meeting to organise what became Autodesk, Inc. was held in my house in Mill Valley, California, then galactic headquarters of Marinchip Systems, Ltd. The working paper, mailed two weeks earlier, laid out the plans for the company, such as they were, and served as an invitation to the organisational meeting.

The working name was “Marin Software Partners” in this paper. We showed prototypes of AutoCAD and Autodesk at the West Coast Computer Faire on March, 19th, 1982 (using a booth which Marinchip had already reserved and paid for).

The brochure we handed out at the Computer Faire was the first time “Autodesk” (the product) was publicly mentioned.

By then we were calling the company “Desktop Solutions” which, along with several other alternatives, was rejected by the California Secretary of State. We ended up falling back to the name of which Dan Drake wrote in Information Letter 4:

“At the March 16 meeting we reached a pseudo-consensus on an unsatisfactory name for the corporation (Autodesk Inc.), …”
Other twenty-fifth anniversaries this year are:

April 26 Incorporation of Autodesk, Inc.
November 24–26     AutoCAD launch at COMDEX in Las Vegas

The latter dates are my inference from the AutoCAD-80 development log, which shows the midnight fix to make the SUBDIV sample drawing regenerate in less time than it would take to actually build the subdivision as having been made on 1982-11-23, the Tuesday of that week, and my recollection that COMDEX stomped on Thanksgiving that year. But I haven't been able to confirm the precise dates.

The first copies of AutoCAD-80 were shipped in December 1982, but I have no record of the exact date. I think it was in the first two weeks, since there's a gap in the AutoCAD-80 development log between COMDEX and the first work on version 1.3 on 1982-12-16, and I distinctly recall only getting back to development work after the first copies were shipped.

Posted at January 30, 2007 21:43