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AutoCAD2014 logo.png
AutoCAD Interface.png
AutoCAD 2014
Initial releaseDecember 1982
Stable release2014 / March 26, 2013 (2013-03-26)
Development statusActive
Operating systemMS Windows, Mac OS X & iOS, Android
Available inMultilingual
TypeComputer-aided design
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AutoCAD2014 logo.png
AutoCAD Interface.png
AutoCAD 2014
Initial releaseDecember 1982
Stable release2014 / March 26, 2013 (2013-03-26)
Development statusActive
Operating systemMS Windows, Mac OS X & iOS, Android
Available inMultilingual
TypeComputer-aided design

AutoCAD is a software application for 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting — available since 1982 as a desktop application and since 2010 as a mobile web- and cloud-based app, currently marketed as AutoCAD 360.

Developed and marketed by Autodesk, Inc.,[1] AutoCAD was first released in December 1982 — having been purchased a year prior in its original form by Autodesk founder John Walker. The software is currently marketed in its eighteenth generation.

As Autodesk's flagship product, by March 1986 AutoCAD had become the most ubiquitous microcomputer design program worldwide, with functions such as "polylines" and "curve fitting".[2] Prior to the introduction of AutoCAD, most other CAD programs ran on mainframe computers or minicomputers, with each CAD operator (user) working at a graphical terminal or workstation.[citation needed]

AutoCAD is used across a range of industries, including architects, project managers and engineers, among other professions, with 750 training centers established worldwide as of 1994.[1]


AutoCAD was derived from a 1977 program called Interact CAD, which was written in a proprietary language (SPL) by inventor Michael Riddle who later co-founded Autodesk to market AutoCAD.[3] This early version ran on the Marinchip Systems 9900 computer (Marinchip Systems was owned by Autodesk co-founders John Walker and Dan Drake). While initially Walker and Riddle had a profits-sharing agreement for any product derived from Interact, in the end Walker paid Riddle US$10 million for all the rights.

When Marinchip Software Partners (later known as Autodesk) formed, the founders decided to re-code Interact in C and PL/1. They chose C because it seemed to be the biggest upcoming language.[citation needed] In the end, the PL/1 version was unsuccessful. The C version was, at the time, one of the most complex programs in that language. Autodesk had to work with a compiler developer, Lattice, to update C, enabling AutoCAD to run.[4] Early releases of AutoCAD used primitive entities — lines, polylines, circles, arcs, and text — to construct more complex objects. Since the mid-1990s, AutoCAD supported custom objects through its C++ Application Programming Interface (API). AutoCAD uses its own fork of the ACIS geometry modelling kernel.[5]

The modern AutoCAD includes a full set of basic solid modeling and 3D tools. The release of AutoCAD 2007 included the improved 3D modeling that provided better navigation when working in 3D. Moreover, it became easier to edit 3D models. The mental ray engine was included in rendering and therefore it is possible to do quality renderings. AutoCAD 2010 introduced parametric functionality and mesh modeling.

The latest AutoCAD releases are AutoCAD 2014 and AutoCAD 2014 for Mac. The 2014 release marked the 28th major release for the AutoCAD for Windows. The 2014 release marked the fourth consecutive year for AutoCAD for Mac.


File formats and versions[edit]

The native file format of AutoCAD is .dwg. This and, to a lesser extent, its interchange file format DXF, have become de facto, if proprietary, standards for CAD data interoperability.[citation needed] AutoCAD has included support for .dwg, a format developed and promoted by Autodesk, for publishing CAD data.

Official NameVersionReleaseDate of releaseComments
AutoCAD Version 1.01.011982, DecemberDWG R1.0 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 1.21.221983, AprilDWG R1.2 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 1.31.331983, AugustDWG R1.3 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 1.41.441983, OctoberDWG R1.4 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.02.051984, OctoberDWG R2.05 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.12.161985, MayDWG R2.1 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.52.571986, JuneDWG R2.5 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.62.681987, AprilDWG R2.6 file format introduced. Last version to run without a math co-processor.
AutoCAD Release 99.091987, SeptemberDWG R9 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Release 1010.0101988, OctoberDWG R10 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Release 1111.0111990, OctoberDWG R11 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Release 1212.0121992, JuneDWG R11/R12 file format introduced. Last release for Apple Macintosh til 2010.
AutoCAD Release 1313.0131994, NovemberDWG R13 file format introduced. Last release for Unix, MS-DOS and Windows 3.11.
AutoCAD Release 1414.0141997, FebruaryDWG R14 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 200015.0151999, MarchDWG 2000 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 2000i15.1162000, July
AutoCAD 200215.6172001, June
AutoCAD 200416.0182003, MarchDWG 2004 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 200516.1192004, March
AutoCAD 200616.2202005, MarchDynamic Block introduced.
AutoCAD 200717.0212006, MarchDWG 2007 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 200817.1222007, MarchAnnotative Objects introduced. AutoCAD 2008 and higher (including AutoCAD LT) can directly import and underlay DGN V8 files.
AutoCAD 200917.2232008, MarchRevisions to the user interface including the option of a Microsoft Office 2007-like tabbed ribbon.
AutoCAD 201018.0242009, March 24DWG 2010 file format introduced. Parametrics introduced. Mesh 3D solid modeling introduced. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of AutoCAD 2010 and AutoCAD LT 2010 are compatible with and supported under Microsoft Windows 7.
AutoCAD 201118.1252010, March 25Surface Modeling, Surface Analysis and Object Transparency introduced. October 15, 2010[6] AutoCAD 2011 for Mac was released. Are compatible with and supported under Microsoft Windows 7
AutoCAD 201218.2262011, March 22Associative Array, Model Documentation. Support for complex linetypes in DGN files is improved in AutoCAD 2012. DGN editing.
AutoCAD 201319.0272012, March 27DWG 2013 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 201419.1282013, March 26File Tabs, Design Feed, Reality Capture, Autodesk Live Maps

Compatibility with other software[edit]

ESRI ArcMap 10 permits export as AutoCAD drawing files. Civil 3D permits export as AutoCAD objects and as LandXML. Third-party file converters exist for specific formats such as Bentley MX GENIO Extension, PISTE Extension (France), ISYBAU (Germany), OKSTRA and Microdrainage (UK).[7]


AutoCAD 2014 and AutoCAD LT 2014 are available for English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional and Brazilian Portuguese.[8][9] Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian will be available later on. The extent of localization varies from full translation of the product to documentation only. The AutoCAD command set is localized as a part of the software localization.


AutoCAD supports a number of APIs for customization and automation. These include AutoLISP, Visual LISP, VBA, .NET and ObjectARX. ObjectARX is a C++ class library, which was also the base for: (a) products extending AutoCAD functionality to specific fields; (b) creating products such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D; or (c) third-party AutoCAD-based application. There is a large number of AutoCAD plugins (add-on applications) available on the application store Autodesk Exchange Apps .[10]

Vertical integration[edit]

Autodesk has also developed a few vertical programs (AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD ecscad, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Structural Detailing, AutoCAD Utility Design, AutoCAD P&ID and AutoCAD Plant 3D) for discipline-specific enhancements. For example, AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop) permits architectural designers to draw 3D objects, such as walls, doors and windows, with more intelligent data associated with them rather than simple objects, such as lines and circles. The data can be programmed to represent specific architectural products sold in the construction industry, or extracted into a data file for pricing, materials estimation, and other values related to the objects represented. Additional tools generate standard 2D drawings, such as elevations and sections, from a 3D architectural model. Similarly, Civil Design, Civil Design 3D, and Civil Design Professional support data-specific objects, facilitating easy standard civil engineering calculations and representations. Civil 3D was originally developed as an AutoCAD add-on by a company in New Hampshire called Softdesk (originally DCA). Softdesk was acquired by Autodesk, and Civil 3D was further evolved.


AutoCAD LT[edit]

AutoCAD LT is the lower cost version of AutoCAD, with reduced capabilities, first released in November 1993. Autodesk developed AutoCAD LT to have an entry-level CAD package to compete in the lower price level. AutoCAD LT, priced at $495, became the first AutoCAD product priced below $1000. It is sold directly by Autodesk and can also be purchased at computer stores (unlike the full version of AutoCAD, which must be purchased from official Autodesk dealers).

As of the 2011 release the AutoCAD LT MSRP has risen to $1200. While there are hundreds of small differences between the full AutoCAD package and AutoCAD LT, currently there are a few recognized major differences[11] in the software's features:

AutoCAD 360[edit]

View 1
View 2
AutoCAD WS Mobile App (iOS)

Formerly marketed as AutoCAD WS, AutoCAD 360 is an account-based mobile and web application enabling registered users to view, edit, and share AutoCAD files via mobile device and web[12] using a limited AutoCAD feature set — and using cloud-stored drawing files. The program, which is an evolution and combination of previous products, uses a freemium business model with a free plan and two paid levels — marketed as Pro ($4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly) and Pro Plus ($99.99 yearly) — including various amounts of storage, tools, and online access to drawings. 360 includes new features such as a "Smart Pen" mode and linking to third-party cloud-based storage such as Dropbox. Having evolved from Flash-based software, AutoCAD 360 uses HTML5 browser technology available in newer browsers including Firefox and Google Chrome.

AutoCAD WS began with a Flash-based version for the iPhone and subsequently expanded to include version for the iPod Touch, iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets.[13] Autodesk released the iOS version in September 2010,[14] following with the Android version on April 20, 2011.[15] The program is available via download at no cost from the App Store (iOS), Google Play (Android) and Amazon Appstore (Android).

In its initial iOS version, AutoCAD WS supported drawing of lines, circles, and other shapes; creation of text and comment boxes; and management of color, layer, and measurements — in both landscape and portrait modes. Version 1.3, released August 17, 2011, added support of unit typing, layer visibility, area measurement and file management.[12] The Android variant includes the iOS feature set along with such unique features as the ability to insert text or captions by voice command as well as manually.[15] Both Android and iOS versions allow the user to save files on-line — or off-line in the absence of an Internet connection.[15]

In 2011, Autodesk announced plans to migrate the majority of its software to "the cloud", starting with the AutoCAD WS mobile application.[16]

According to a 2013 interview with Ilai Rotbaein, an AutoCAD WS Product Manager for Autodesk, the name AutoCAD WS had no definitive meaning, and was interpreted variously as Autodesk Web Service, White Sheet or Work Space.[17]

Student versions[edit]

AutoCAD is licensed at a significant discount over commercial retail pricing to qualifying students and teachers, with a 36-month license available. The student version of AutoCAD is functionally identical to the full commercial version, with one exception: DWG files created or edited by a student version have an internal bit-flag set (the "educational flag"). When such a DWG file is printed by any version of AutoCAD (commercial or student), the output includes a plot stamp / banner on all four sides. Objects created in the Student Version cannot be used for commercial use. Student Version objects "infect" a commercial version DWG file if it is imported.[18]

The Autodesk Education Community provides registered students and faculty with free access to different Autodesk applications.


Microsoft Windows[edit]

While the latest release of AutoCAD did not come with a major overhaul, the 2012 version did receive minor improvements. Several small changes were made to improve the 3D capabilities, and some new features were added to enhance the productivity of the program.[19] These changes and features included: increased canvas control, associated arrays, improved 3D model manipulation, and other less noticeable additions.[19] After the release of AutoCAD 2011 for Mac, the Windows version lacked several features found in the Mac version. Several of the Mac version canvas controls have now been added to the 2012 release. To accomplish the goal for better 3D model manipulation, Autodesk did away with the old saved history method and introduced a new plug-in that will automatically be installed, Autodesk Inventor Fusion. This plug-in allows users to directly open and edit 3D models without having to save and export their work manually. When the user is finished editing the plug-in automatically opens the updated version back in AutoCAD. Autodesk also replaced the older array feature with new associated arrays features. This now allows users to duplicate things using three different commands: polar arrays, rectangular arrays, and placing objects along a predetermined path. The new redesigned array feature will also work with both 2D and 3D objects.[19] Autodesk has also chosen to allow users to purchase companion applications directly within the AutoCAD 2012 program.[20] The newest release of AutoCAD also came with new system requirements and recommendations in order to run AutoCAD 2012.[19]

Mac OS[edit]

AutoCAD 2012 for Mac

Autodesk stopped supporting Apple's computers in 1994. Over the next several years, no compatible versions for Macintosh computers were released. In 2010 Autodesk announced that it would once again support Apple's Mac OS X software in the future.[21] Most of the features found in the 2012 Windows version can be found in the 2012 Mac version. The main difference is the user interface and layout of the program. The interface is designed so that users who are already familiar with Apple's OS X software will find it similar to other Mac applications.[14] Autodesk has also built in various features in order to take full advantage of Apple's Trackpad capabilities as well as the full-screen mode in Apple's OS X Lion.[13][14] AutoCAD 2012 for Mac supports both the editing and saving of files in DWG formatting that will allow the file to be compatible with other platforms besides the OS X.[13] AutoCAD 2014 for Mac currently supports Apple Mac OS X v10.9.0 or later (Mavericks), OS X v10.8.0 or later (Mountain Lion) with 64-bit Intel processor.

AutoCAD LT 2013 is now available through the Mac App Store for $899.99. The full featured version of AutoCAD 2013 for Mac, however, is not currently available through the Mac App Store due to the price limit of $999 set by Apple. AutoCAD 2014 for Mac is currently available for purchase from Autodesk's Web site for $4,195 and AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac for $1,200, or from an Autodesk Authorized Reseller.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Autodesk, Inc". FundingUniverse. Lendio. 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Part 2 CAD/CAM/CAE", 25 Year retrospective, Computer Graphics World, 2011, retrieved 29 March 2012 
  3. ^ Grahame, James. (2007-05-17) Mike Riddle's Prehistoric AutoCAD. Retro Thing. Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
  4. ^ Auto file, CH: Fourmi lab 
  5. ^ Day, Martyn. "Autodesk Develops Own Kernel?". CAD Digest. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 Drawing Compatibility". AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 User's Guide. Autodesk. April 2010. pp. 141–142. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ "AutoCAD Language Packs". Autodesk. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "AutoCAD Language Packs". Autodesk. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "AutoCAD Exchange Apps". Autodesk. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b Autodesk. "AutoCAD WS". iTunes Preview. Apple. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c Ozler, Levent. "AutoCAD for Mac and AutoCAD WS application for iPad and iPhone". Dexigner. Dexigner. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Ozler, Levent. "AutoCAD for Mac 2012: Built for Mac OS X Lion". Dexigner. Dexigner. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c Ozler, Levent. "AutoCAD WS for Android". Dexigner. Dexigner. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  16. ^ Thomson, Iain. "Autodesk Shifts Design Apps to the Cloud". The A Register. The A Register. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "AutoCAD WS: Moving Forward". Augi Autodesk Users Group International, January 29th, 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Overview of Plotting
  19. ^ a b c d Cohn, David (1 July 2011). "AutoCAD 2012 Review: Software Provides a Wealth of Improvements". DE Desktop Engineering. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Ozler, Levent. "Companion Apps Now Available in AutoCAD 2012". Dexigner. Dexigner. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  21. ^ a b Clark, Don (16 August 2011). "Autodesk Adopts Apple App Store for Mac Software". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 

External links[edit]

on Michael Riddle and Interact: