The early days of Cad remembered

Paul Bold reminisces over the early days of Cad

Paul Bold reminisces over the early days of Cad


I am IT manager with a firm of consulting engineers. I've worked with computers for more than 10 years, having started out as a Cad operator, and can remember several "firsts" in my battles with computers:

  • First design program: a bridge design program that spat out hundreds of pages of numbers off a BBC micro. It tried to produce a graphical image of the bridge by using zeros. Looked good from about 10 feet away.

  • First experience of Windows: on a Tandem 286 with 512Kbyte memory (black and white screen) drawing with Paintbrush using the cursor keys because the mouse didn't work. I thought it was sooooo good!

  • First experience of Cad: on an Acer 385 20Mhz with a 25Mbyte hard disc drive boosted by a 2Mbyte Ram (cost £3,800. It had a huge 21in NEC monitor (cost £1,500) using Dos-based Fastcad. I remember it being reasonably fast. However, after a few months of using it, I moved back to the drawing board for a year because I could draw quicker than the computer could.

    Now I use a Celeron 466 with 256Mbytes of Ram (cost £700). Norton Utilities tells me that it is over 100 times faster than a P75 (how much faster that is from a 386 20Mhz I don't know) but I don't think it really works any quicker, it just does more things - currently I use over 4.5Gbytes with virtually no space allocated as data (drawings, letters, etc).

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