Skip to content or navigation


Just one big problem – Notes on AutoCAD for Mac

Today is a big day for CAD on the Mac and Apple and Autodesk. Will this lead to Apple’s further involvement in architecture? The answer to that is probably still unclear.

Well, today marks a significant milestone for all those passionate about professional CAD on the Mac. From Architosh’s humble beginnings we strove first and foremost to provide information on available CAD and 3D software programs for Mac users who were in dire needs back in the late 1990′s due to Apple’s near collapse.

Advertisement

A Bit of History

A bit of history is in order to set the proper mood for this post. The year was 1998. It was one of those water cooler moments. The location was the Boston architectural office of Koetter Kim & Associates. The office was completely Mac based during that time. It was in the afternoon, just after lunch hour to be precise. I was talking to a young colleague who at the time was telling me he was thinking about going back to China to practice architecture, since getting his masters at the GSD. Steve Jobs had already introduced the iMac, but despite that my colleague was telling me how much he loved the Mac but it seemed that the platform was doomed. I told him I thought the problem was that people didn’t have the information available to them to dispel the rumors and disparaging comments.

I told him I was learning how to create Web sites. He said, “you should create one about the Mac in architecture.” I said, “Yeah…maybe I can call it Macitecture or something like that.” He said, or you could call it “Archintosh.” I said, “or I could just call it Architosh,” taking out the “in” part of it. So that is how it began. The goal was simple. Tell the world that despite the gloom and doom surrounding Apple there are indeed firms and tools available serving up architectural practice on the Mac.

Just One Big Problem

Architosh was spun together in 1998 and officially launched on Feb 3, 1999. It was at first not a news site or a site with any journalistic pretenses. It was a resource. It listed software and it began to collect and list information on Mac-using firms. It was instantly popular and it spread through news on the now defunct MacEvanglista e-news list headed by famed Silicon-Valley Apple fan boy and former employee Guy Kawasaki.

Prior to the power of Google to get known fast you needed the power of an influential news e-list. Kawasaki’s list was it. And Architosh quickly become a resource of value. But there was just one problem, many people said. There is no point in fighting for the Mac in architecture without AutoCAD on the Mac. I refuted that point (more on that later).

Just One Big Problem – Part 2

Later on, several years in fact, I was talking to some Apple people who said to me that Steve himself saw little point in pushing hard on the Mac in architecture front if the world’s top software title for it was not available. While I have never been able to check the veracity of that statement, there was always something about that that fit Steve’s logic.

So here we are, more than 12 years on from that water cooler moment. And today, officially, we have AutoCAD on the Mac. A lot has changed in those twelve years. All those Apple naysers were, as it turned out, just plain wrong about Apple, Steve and the immense fortitude and determination of Mac users.

And they were also wrong about something else too. And that is, that it wasn’t worth fighting for the Mac in architecture without AutoCAD. I originally refuted that notion for the very same logic I was defending the Mac and its right to exist in the computing universe back in 1998. That logic boiled down to this: “there was simply too much creative brilliance there…”

What I meant back then by “there” was not just at Apple but at its many dedicated Mac developers around the world. Specifically, in the context of all those who are not at Autodesk, I was referring to the outstanding software achievements by firms like AutoDesSys, Ashar, Graphisoft and Nemetschek–to name just of a few of the key players who were creating and innovating with Mac CAD software.

For the same reason it made sense to bet on, root for, and champion–by way of providing a neutral resource to the world community–the value of Apple and the Mac in computing going forward in 1999, it also made sense to do the same for all those who supported the Mac in CAD prior to, during, and after its darkest days.

Therefore, while today is a big day for Apple and Autodesk and CAD uses around the world, it marks a momentous moment for everyone else who was apart of this story all along. That includes the incredibly talented software developers who served, and will continue to serve, the Mac community with innovative solutions that will compete with Autodesk’s new entrants in the market.

[Editor's Note: A sentence in the third part of this article was relocated to the end of the second part of this article. 6:12PM EST. ]