On April 2, 2014 DataCAD celebrated its 30 anniversary. As much as I
like to share my own stories, I want you to share yours. This might
include how you were first introduced to DataCAD, or how DataCAD has
been influential to your practice, or why you chose DataCAD over one
of its competitors.
In addition to this, I am most interested in the work you have done. After
all, that's why DataCAD was created in the first place. So please, share
your accomplishments. I want to see your drawings, your renderings,
your buildings, or anything else you may have created using DataCAD
in the process.
This could be a current project, your favorite project of all time,
or something from the early days of CADD that illustrates just how far
you've come. I would also like to include your submission here, along
with the others we have received.
Mark F. Madura
I remember when I was first introduced to DataCAD more than 25 years
ago. I was working with an architect at a design-build firm and the
owner's son decided it was time to adopt computer-aided design. So one
day a pile of boxes arrive containing a desktop computer, monitor, pen
plotter, and DataCAD 3.6. All told, it was probably around $15,000 worth
of hardware and software.
So I took the set of binders home to read about how to use DataCAD,
then found out I needed to know as much about computers as I did about
the actual software. Does this look familiar?
After taking a few classes at Entre Computer Center in Providence, Rhode
Island, many late nights, and much trial and error, I finally produced
my first plotted sheet. It was a floor plan for a 'tin can', or metal
building as they are formally called. I was so proud of myself that
I would have pinned it up on the refrigerator if I wasn't 22 years old
at the time.
I was so excited and brought the drawing in to the owner to show him
my accomplishment. He was supportive, but not exactly impressed. He
spent $15,000 dollars and all I did was prove, after much effort, I
could do the same thing with DataCAD that I could do with a pencil and
Fortunately after that, the investment started to pay off, and I was
getting thank yous from the crew out in the field. The drawings were
easier for them to read and I could duplicate details in the 'correct'
orientation when appropriate so they didn't have to do the rotation
in their heads. Desktop CADD has come a long way since then.
-- Mark F. Madura
It was in the spring of 1987 when I became intrigued with the possibilities
of CAD. I never thought much of it during grad. school at the Harvard
GSD in the mid-70s -- I thought it was pretty gimmicky and rudimentary
at that time. But I had recently started my own practice and as an inveterately
messy draftsman, I was always smudging my drawings with my sleeves.
I had recently started to hear about CAD and I thought maybe CAD would
be a way to deal with my messy drafting!
Charrette (the purveyor of all things architectural at the time)
was pushing DataCAD as the CAD software endorsed by the American
Institute of Architects. I went to a presentation at Charrette and
was sold on DataCAD's wonders as presented by Skip Mulch. Charrette
offered a special package for $15,000 that included DataCAD 3.1a
(on five 5 1/4" floppy diskettes), an 8 pen plotter, and a 20MB
hard drive PC with 640K RAM and a 20 inch, 16 color monitor. It
was a big investment for me at the time as I had to take out a business
loan from the Bank of Boston to purchase it.
Attached you will see one of the first projects (Schwartz House
on Martha's Vineyard) I ever used DataCAD for that dates back to
1987-1988. It is embarrassingly plain by today's standards, but
I remember being proud of it way back then.
I became so enthusiastic about DataCAD that I attended the first-ever
National DataCAD Users' Group meeting at the AIA in May of 1987,
where I found out that my GSD classmate Rick Gleason had won first
place in a DataCAD drawing contest! After I returned home, Charrette
called to say that Lou Bodnar of Microtecture was telling them that
Rick and I wanted to start a Boston Area Users' Group and would
we like them to send out an invitation letter to their DataCAD customer
mailing list! Well, I had no plans to do so, but it sounded like
such a good idea that I met with Rick and we discussed our ideas
for what was to become DBUG (DataCAD Boston Users' Group, a name
suggested to Rick by Lucian Berry Taylor of Microtecture). DBUG
had its first organizational meeting on Dec. 2, 1987. Rick also
smartly suggested that we align ourselves with the Boston Society
of Architects (BSA) and the rest is DBUG history!
Along came the recession of 1990, and I was casting about for work.
People had told me how helpful my DBUG meeting notes were to them,
and since I enjoyed writing them, the thought came to me of starting
a DataCAD newsletter. Even though Chris Davis was already publishing
WindowIn for DataCAD, I thought I could approach the whole subject
from a more general architectural point-of-view as well as have
fun with it. So that is how in December 1990, the Cheap Tricks Newsletter
for DataCAD users was started. A year later, Cheapware (later renamed
Cheap Tricks Ware due to a copyright infringement) was started as
a way for DataCAD users to share templates, symbols, and macros.
For the next ten years, I juggled doing both architectural work
as well as DBUG and Cheap Tricks work as a kind of 50-50 proposition.
But by 2000, it was clear that my own architecture practice was
fading -- probably as much by choice --- in favor of what you might
call my "DataCAD work"! It worked out pretty well for me in the
architecture realm as well, as in 2001, I was awarded the exalted
status of FAIA, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects ---
largely due to my efforts in CAD education. So, it is pretty clear,
that almost all of my most important professional achievements (as
well as professional friendships and relationships) can be traced
back to the original decision in 1987 to buy DataCAD.
So, thank you, DataCAD -- you've made my life!
--Evan H. Shu, FAIA
Congrats on 30 years. I still use DataCAD when I have the chance
for architectural plans and modeling for use in my traditional sketches &
watercolors. These days I give most of my time to full-time ministry
as the pastor of Christian Life Church in Rehoboth, MA. A long way from
the days of Anthony Nunes and Bristol, Rhode Island eh?
-- Bob Bernier
DataCAD’s First Paying Customer
by Bruce Chitiea
I cannot be sure that I deserve the #1 slot. It depends on how you measure
it. Honors for the first ‘civilian’ user certainly belong elsewhere,
likely at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Santa
Monica CA where Microtecture received an early unofficial staff review.
As noted below, my use of Microtecture begins in late 1984 on the Corvus
Concept, prior to the introduction of the PC version and the name "DataCAD"
in spring 1985. I do recall that my first PC-compatible serialized disks
(Concept beta disks bore no serial numbers) bore serial number 10005.
Microtecture’s control of basic production and control data was pretty
loose during its first years, so I can't speak to numbers 10001 - 10004.
(I'm proud to be able to say I ended up with single-digit serial numbers
for one helluva lot of now-famous things).
I’m probably the first commercial DataCAD Dealer in the Western United
States, as I began recording Microtecture sales in spring/summer 1985.
Another early dealer from Virginia Beach, David Porter, may actually
hold the top spot and may stand - shoulder-to-shoulder with me - in
Dave's memory as the biggest whining, complaining, ungrateful, never-satisfied,
always demanding pain-in-the-ass beta tester in the early network. I'd
like to think that our input helped make DataCAD what it is today, although
I'd sure hate to be on the receiving end of MY input.
My DataCAD story begins in Las Vegas in late fall 1984. Griff Berg and
Eric Smith displayed the 'Microtecture' suite of architectural CAD,
accounting and job costing software in an outlying gallery of some trade
show - possibly Comdex - which I was prowling for useful CAD tools (Note
that 'DataCAD' came later to avoid a copyright dispute with a prior
registrant of the 'Microtecture' name).
I had been testing and applying early 2D and 3D CAD products since early
1983 to my mechanical design practice: large-scale fire and explosion
suppression systems for refineries, high-rise buildings and military
facilities. Operational design requirements well exceeded the
abilities of anything but the large minicomputer based systems of the
day, crying out automation solutions.
Invited by vendors and manufacturers to help prove the utility of desktop
CAD at trade shows and CAD seminars, I had the unique opportunity to
discern the collective wish of many design disciplines, coming away
with a clear understanding of what would constitute a viable desktop
CAD system. Like everyone else at the time, I was feeling my way into
uncharted territory. Our high hopes for desktop CAD ran well ahead of
available technology, and anyone trying to profitably produce drawings
had to contend with serious, debilitating limitations.
The Victor 9000, NEC something-or-other, Corvus Concept and Sage boxes
were the screamers of the day, all running at pretty much the same speed
of 4.77 mhz. Each could support high resolution monochrome (800 x 400),
and made useful tools. The IBM PC and PC-XT, with their support for
12", 320 x 200 CGA 4-color resolution and 600 x 400 monochrome simply
couldn't provide a useful production experience.
Scroll speeds (on all but the Motorola 64000-based Concept) were so
slow that most production drawings combined plotted, parametrically-placed
symbols and manually-drawn lines, text and dimensions. To enjoy a comprehensive
digital experience, you paid CalComp or Intergraph $500,000 and trained
for a year, which meant we could only hope and press on.
On this background, the 2D-to-3D wire-frame translations produced by
Microtecture on the Corvus Concept in Las Vegas simply knocked me over.
3D aside, 'simple' things like WALLS and CLEANUP features were RADICAL
advances for the day. (Anyone enduring floor plan creation with AutoCAD's
POLYLINES feature can tell you why). The Corvus display - a rotating
tall/wide screen designed for graphics - was unequaled at the time.
On the spot I wangled myself a beta slot, exchanged my children’s' birthright
for a Corvus Concept in November 1984, eagerly received the (4? 5?)
5.25" Microtecture floppies and began translating symbol libraries from
Victor-9000, CP/M-based AutoCAD. In the process I managed to assemble
a 'comprehensive' set of architectural office and project management
products (running in the UCSD Pascal "P-System"), incorporated "Chi
Computer Systems, Inc." and got set to tear up the world.
Ah, but it was not to be. Seeing the writing on the wall clearer than
I, Griff and Eric pulled the plug on Corvus Concept development and
converted everything over to a code base suited for the 80286-based
IBM PC-AT and its radical 640 x 350, 16-color EGA graphics subsystem.
The onrush of the IBM/PC-DOS juggernaut could not be denied, and I (grudgingly)
made the switch to evade destruction beneath its wheels.
That's when life became interesting ... and expensive.
P.S. A note on an underhanded marketing trick I pulled at an AEC show,
sometime in early 1986.
I handed out a floor plan with doors, windows, intersecting walls, one
rounded corner, string and baseline dimensions, wrapped in a title block,
with text to the effect: ”Ask every vendor to demonstrate these simple,
basic operations”. The AutoCAD dealers coming to my booth were not smiling.
I could probably top your story with being one of the original DataCAD
version 1.2 users. My career was started at the University of California,
San Diego thanks to DataCAD back in 1985. My hobby was computers and
CADD was one of my interests. As a self-employed general contractor
in custom residential construction, I did my own design and drafting.
CADD held the promise of making my job easier, and after trying AutoCAD,
I wasn’t quite sure it would.
I had an unfortunate accident that temporally disabled me and there
was an opportunity for a temporary CADD position at UCSD creating
as-built floor, and utility plans. I got the job but it was a struggle
producing the work that was expected of me. There had to be something
out there easier-to-use than AutoCAD (version 2?). Somehow we discovered
DataCAD and made the change.
The group that sold DataCAD did a great job in training and support
(I wish I could remember their name). Soon I was able to produce
excellent results (this program actually draws walls right out of
the box!), and it lead to a permanent position with the University
where I am still employed. My CAD operator days are far behind me
as I have advanced to a management position. I still keep my hand
in for reviewing and simple editing tasks with DataCAD Version 12.
-- William 'Bill' Shull
I was working for another company in 1994, producing architectural
drawings by hand, trying to save up to buy AutoCAD so I could show my
boss all of its advantages over hand drawings. It would have taken
me about a year to get the money together to buy AutoCAD. Then
I received a post card for DataCAD 5.0 for $150 with a money-back guarantee. I
figured it would be money down the drain, but I'd give it a try.
Well, I went through the tutorial in about a day or two and have
been using DataCAD ever since. DataCAD was instrumental in
enabling me to start my own architecture firm in January 2000. Over
the years I've had AutoCAD drafters work for me and they've all
said that learning and using DataCAD was much easier than using
I've produced everything from small house additions to large custom
houses to very large commercial and industrial projects, all using
DataCAD. I have upgraded faithfully to each new version of
DataCAD as they became available and am now on subscription. The
subscription is a small price to pay to help keep DataCAD in business,
especially since I'm earning my livelihood with this incredible
program. Though I did not create the attached rendering with
DataCAD (all of my income is from the 2D feature set), it is of
my most recent commercial project. It is a music and dance
academy building for my wife's business - about 11,900 square feet. We
will be in the building a year from now.
Thanks for a great program!
In the Mid 80's I was a small builder. I went to the local builders'
show where Charrette was showing off this computer with a pen plotter.
I too spent $15,000, justifying it by saying it was just a tool like
a pickup truck. I had some classes in my office. Then I was putting
my recent spec house into the computer. A couple came in and said, "If
you would change this, this, and this..." I said, "You mean like this,
this, and this?" They purchased the home and I paid for my computer
the first month. It's now 2014, I still have DataCAD, and I use it all
I have been using DataCAD since 1991 when it was $3,000, and suggested
to me by a previous employer. I went out to Carol and Karl Buehrens
office in Anaheim Hills and did a demo for the afternoon with Carol. In
four hours I was faster using the system than the AutoCAD 14 system
I had at the office. I was sold. Purchased a new 486 computer
with 20” monitor and DataCAD for around $12K as I recall. I've
never looked back.
I do hospital work and have completed more than 800 projects since
that date ranging from $20K to $36M, a total of around $500M in
construction as a one person architectural firm. I have attached
some additional information about the firm including some photos. I
seem to talk to Mark Toce a couple of times a week, and Clay when
Mark is not available. In addition, I have had Dave personally
help me on issues that came up when something was not ready for
prime time and no one else had found it.
I really want to thank all of you for helping my professional career
to prosper in this way.
--John Douglas Thomson, AIA
I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in Massachusetts. Yes
indeed, C:\MTEC>rundcad is very familiar. Those were the DOS
days. I started my first engineering business, Prestige Engineering,
in 1984. In 1985 I sought out the best software that I could find
at that time that would be good for designing framing for buildings. It
had to be easy-to-use and fit my needs for civil and structural drafting.
AutoCAD at the time was cumbersome and unfit for my needs.
DataCAD, designed for and by architects, was perfect and comprehensive. By
small changes in purpose it worked well for Civil Engineering drawings. For
example: Wide walls became roads and stream beds, using curves as
needed. Curved dashed lines became existing contours and solid
ones became new contours. Importing or creating special line
types gave us tree lines, edges of wetlands, and individual trees,
Because it worked so well for architects, it was useful for structural
drawings with little tweaks here and there. We got so used
to it that I never bothered learning AutoCAD. Later on, I joined
two partners and created Goldsmith, Prest & Ringwall, Inc. They
were using AutoCAD for their Civil and Surveying drawings. As
President, I managed the structural group and started using DataCAD. It
did not easily sync with the other company groups so we switched
to AutoCAD. All my structural people used AutoCAD, except me.
When I retired and opened my one-man firm, Groton Engineering, I
went back to using DataCAD, and do so to this day. In semi-retirement
and 77 years old, I only do structural engineering on small projects
and DataCAD works great for me. It is only in trying to coordinate
with other companies that use other software that struggles exist.
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for DataCAD. I still have
my Ver. 3.5 disc. Drawing files were DC3 before the DC5 format.
I’m retired now and no longer have drawings or rendering to share. I
do still give services to others as a gift from time to time using DataCAD
14. I can’t justify the cost of upgrading to the latest version now.
My experience with DataCAD and what it did for us was miraculous.
We were a retail consulting firm. During the middle 80’s we
were recognized by Interior Design Magazine as one of the top Interior
design firms in America. We were designing all types of retail
space but mostly large department stores 200,000 to 300,000 sq.
ft. We also consulted with many major shopping center developers
throughout the nation. Early on our work was done with sepias
as overlays so when DataCAD came along we truly felt we had died
and gone to Heaven.
I worked at Rich’s department store in Atlanta. I was in charge
of real estate, planning, design, construction, and maintenance
for all of our facilities. I would purchase real estate for
a new shopping center, then negotiate with a developer to build
the shopping center while retaining oversight of the results. Separately
we would plan and design our own store; usually about 240,000
sq. ft. Initially we used Raymond Loewy the New York design
firm for our interiors; quite a mentor, and opportunity for us.
In 1968 I left Rich’s and started my own design firm, Gorman &
Associates, Inc. Time passed and thousands of sepias were used. You
mentioned computers. We hit the big time with our first computer. It
was a four-user CPM machine with 64 bits per user and 64 bits for
the server. 64 bits, not 64 megabytes (I think it was close
to $15,000). We used floppies with Word Star and Calc Star. It
was great for specs, proposals, and correspondence. Specifications
were typed on sticky backed film to stick on drawings; a huge improvement
over lettering everything with a 2H or 4H pencil.
We had heard about AutoCAD but were really skeptical. We were
extremely busy and did not have time to play games or waste time. Before
long, one of my guys came in and said CAD is something we really
need to look at. He had set an appointment for an AutoCAD demonstration.
We knew nothing about it and did not know what to expect. This
AutoCAD demonstration was a prelude to one of the worst headaches
I’ve ever had.
The guy had two monitors, a mouse, and some kind of early digitizer
pad, maybe for symbols or something, I don’t exactly remember. I
guess he thought the faster he went, the more impressed we would
be with how fast we could produce drawings. I was intent because
he was talking about spending $4,000 of my money (only for software). Bam-zam
from one monitor to the other, then to the digitizer pad while at
the same time the mouse was whirling around and around. I finally
asked the magic question, "How long will it take us to learn how
to use the program?" He answered, "I can have you producing
working drawings within 6 months", unbelievable. I went home
with a headache.
Before long I saw a CAD program mentioned somewhere that was an
all-in-one package and was designed by Architects for Architects. There
were no extra modules to buy, and learn. I don’t remember the
exact process, but I started talking to someone at DataCAD.
Every concern I raised was answered. I was still not sure,
it was also $4,000. I think training was extra. Being
kind of a horse trader, I pursued the conversation. I learned
that if I became a “Dealer” for Atlanta, I could get DataCAD for
$2,000. Training was included, but I would have to come to
Virginia. I bought the deal, and went to Virginia for training
with my 'CAD Guy'.
DataCAD would not work on the 64 bit CPM machine. We bought
two or three Wyse 286 computers with 25 megabyte hard drives (I
think they were about $2,500 each). Now the punch line, ant
this is the gospel truth. Within 2 weeks we were producing
working drawings and putting them out for bid and then construction.
We not only survived, we flourished.
I had a blast using DataCAD and looked forward to working every
day. Oddly enough, it was like a wonderful video game, and
I looked forward to every new version. I Don’t remember when
we got DataCAD but you probably have it in your records. We
used it for a long time and my goodness was it worth the investment.
Thanks Mark, and the whole DataCAD gang.
Attached are two montages of some of my DataCAD work for 2013. I
created these a few months ago to compliment an assignment about my
vocational currency for a teaching qualification upgrade course I was
undertaking. I created the montages to protect both the designs &
the project/client identity. As you can see, I not only use DataCAD
for architectural work, I also use it for mechanical services drafting.
I teach/lecture at RMIT University in Melbourne Australia, and I have
created numerous DataCAD models & drawings to assist in teaching
building construction and drafting.
--David Anderson, Korumburra Drafting, Australia
Lewis + Malm Architecture was introduced to DataCAD around 1990 when,
as a small firm just starting out with minimal capital, we decided that
making the move to CAD would be fun and a market advantage. We
were all tired of tracing drawings, electric erasers, and pounce aprons!
We invited three vendors to come to our office to demonstrate their
programs. I believe the programs were VersaCAD, AutoCAD, and DataCAD. We
gave each of them a test: Draw a simple room in plan and put a 2x2 ceiling
grid on it. The first two labored at their keyboards mightily and
tried to explain to us what they were doing in techno-ease. We understood
Bill D’Amico showed up in our office with the 5 ¼” discs of DCAD
3.0, I believe. In two or three strokes, the test was passed. I
think he used the Wall function to draw two lines at once and automatically
clean up the corners. Then he used a hatch pattern to add the
ceiling grid with two more clicks. We were sold. Bill continued
to be our go-to support guy for years as we integrated DataCAD into
our office. He was the first and only guy we’ve encountered
since who can do wizardry with computers and explain it in terms
that every non-geek can understand. He also showed us that
DataCAD, unlike the other two programs, did not require 80 or more
hours of training before being useful.
We used it the first week and continue to learn new tools to this
day. We feel privileged that we were often the beneficiaries
of Bill’s macros before they became more widely available. We
still have the photo of Bill’s new baby son on our lunchroom wall
in tribute to him! We have not yet exhausted what we can learn to
do in DataCAD 12. We have been using 2½D for some time to create
wireframe models for rendering by hand or in Photoshop. Attached
are a couple of examples of renderings done entirely in DataCAD,
as well as some photos of our favorite projects whose condocs were
done in DataCAD.
Unfortunately, the recent weak economy has prevented us from upgrading
to the latest version but we look forward to it. Aside from the
program itself, the fabulous support from DBUG and DATACAD itself
has kept us loyally-impressed throughout the years. We’ve attended
several DBUG meetings in Boston and even hosted one in Bucksport,
Maine! I was surprised how many DBUGers made the four hour
car ride up to our office from Boston! Of course, the oft-remarked
support from DATACAD has been amazing and is another thing that
keeps us loyal.
Several times we’ve had a “how to” question or a corrupted drawing
file that was fixed and returned within minutes of being emailed
to the DATACAD office. We are disappointed that this legendary
support now requires a fee, but I understand the financial pressures
we’re all under these days. So thanks, Mark, Dave, Bill, and all
the others who created and developed DataCAD over the years. The
program was one factor that enabled a small firm in a somewhat remote
area to produce good design and many commercial and institutional
projects up to $20 million over 25 years with a staff that never
I started with DataCAD 2.something in May of 1986 on an IBM AT with
a math co-processor and a 'screaming' 1MB of RAM on a full-length daughter
card. I didn't know squat about DOS, so a secretary set up a batch file
to launch DataCAD. I met Griff Burgh here in Lubbock, TX when he swept
the country promoting the program. At that time, I had about 1 1/2 years
experience with VersaCAD and how you had to back out of every command
sequence by pressing the [Q] key multiple times. DataCAD was a dream
for how you could easily jump between commands. My AckCAD [sic] buddies
didn't believe me. I did hate the digitizer; turned out a slick dealer
told my boss we had to have it. Dennis Beese and I wore out Dave Giesselman
and Clay Rogers on the phone. Thank goodness times have changed and
DataCAD is very well alive.
I started using DataCAD in June of 1986. At the time, you could buy
DataCAD at a discount if you bought it through AIA, which was recommending
the program. I can't remember the version; 2.3 I think. I will never
forget that the salesman was a guy named George and he was from Charlottesville.
I bought the whole system: AT&T PC6300 with math coprocessor, high
resolution color monitor, DataCAD, and a Houston Instruments single
pen plotter all for $10,978.75 (I think).
In any event, George came up from Charlottesville to Reston to install
the station. After he was finished setting it up, he said, "Here
is the manual, study it, and come down to Charlottesville. We have
some courses so you can learn how to use it. Don't try to use DataCAD
on a job until you are familiar with it." I looked at George and
said, "Are you kidding? This thing just cost me $10,978.75. It goes
to work tomorrow!"
The next day, I sat down in front of my new computer with the manual
in-hand and a new job (a set of working drawings for a house that
a builder had commissioned me to do) which would have taken me about
two weeks to hand draw in those days. However, with my new CAD program
and computer it took me 30 days to draw the plans. I made every
mistake known to man and made many phone calls to Microtecture during
that time. I am sure Dave Giesselman was tired of hearing from me
that first month.
I finished the job at about 3 AM on a Saturday morning and I was
to have a meeting with the contractor to deliver the drawings at
10 a.m. At about 9 a.m. I got up, made some coffee and was getting
ready for my meeting. I booted up the computer for one final review
before plotting and promptly locked up DataCAD and my drawing. I
couldn't open it, and I panicked; what to do? It was Saturday morning
so I figured no one would be at the Microtecture office, but I gave
them a call to see if I could get lucky.
Dave Giesselman answered and after discussing my problem for about
two minutes, he said, "The only thing I can do for you is to have
you send me the file on a disc (remember these were 5 1/4" floppies)
by UPS overnight and we will unlock the file for you and send it
back on Monday. The client wasn't real happy, but I was able to
deliver the final product on the following Tuesday and I never looked
back. From that point forward, I was comfortable with DataCAD
and I have been both an avid user of the program as well as an enthusiastic
advocate ever since.
-- Dennis Beese
I first encountered DataCAD in 1989 while evaluating CAD software
for use in the 5 year Bachelor of Architecture program at Spring Garden
College (alas, now defunct) in Philadelphia. The version I checked out
was 3.something and was at the time being sold by Microtecture of Charlottesville,
VA. DataCAD 3.x had recently been recommended by the AIA for its members.
It came on 5 1/4 floppies and I was impressed with what it could do
on my 286/10MHz with a 287 math co-processor.
Spring Garden College had previously been using a 2D only CAD system
running on Prime Medusa mini-computers. At my urging, they equipped
a new CAD lab with 286/12MHz machines running DataCAD 3.x. My students
were able to learn it quickly. Within the first semester they were
presenting hidden line drawings of 3D models of their studio projects.
By the second semester, I had some of them using Velocity. We had
no means of printing the output back then, so students had to set
up a 286 to run in front of the jury to display screen shots of
their projects. Because DataCAD worked so well for my students,
I've been using it professionally ever since. If I ever get around
to cleaning my garage, I'll look to see if I still have any DataCAD
3.x materials in the files that hold my old Spring Garden class
I remember back in 1999-2000 when I was a Sr. Project Manager at Deloitte,
a very close and dear friend, Greg Barriere, introduced all of us in
the Real Estate Facilities Group to DataCAD instead of AutoCAD LT. Greg
was working with us as an independent consultant at the time. Well,
he did a great job in convincing Deloitte and the rest is history. Again,
I want to thank you for your vision and leadership with this software.
May the updates and new parameters prevail.
--Peter C. Chipouras
I am the first user in Israel. I purchased DataCAD 3.6 directly from
Microtecture and we've enjoyed DataCAD for the last 25 years. Thank
you very much for DataCAD.
My experience was similar to yours. Around 1985 I was a junior partner
of medium sized commercial architecture firm in Silicon Valley, when
I attended a computer trade show at the Orange County Convention Center.
It was there that I met Griff Burg and several others from Microtecture,
and personally bought DataCAD (I think version 3.1). I installed
the software on my home PC, purchased a 24" wide Houston Instruments
pen plotter and managed to get it working (I think I had to make my
own plotter cable).
I experimented at home on a few plans and then took it to the office.
A bright junior staffer and I used it to create floor plans for
a one million square foot office park in Redwood Shores, CA. The
building site was formerly a solid waste dump on the San Francisco
Bay shoreline (the project was approved by the municipal planning
department but never built). For the project, each of the 20 or
so buildings had the same foot print but varied in height from two
to four stories. Each building also had a large radius, quarter-round
curve (DataCAD really helped here).
Within a year or so I left the firm and opened up my own small architectural
practice doing mostly research and development buildings in Silicon
Valley and used DataCAD for about 10 years on all of my projects.
Most of the past 20 years I have been doing design and consulting
work for Johnson & Johnson and they have insisted on drawing
work being done on AutoCAD. I've always enjoyed using DataCAD when
it was practical to use and have likewise disliked AutoCAD and Autodesk
as a company. Unfortunately, I have to use AutoCAD for much of my
work. I'm pleased to see DataCAD continue to produce a logical,
practical, reasonably-priced, and effective tool.
I wish DataCAD growth and success in the next 30 years.
I remember the early days in Charlottesville. I also remember an
address I gave to the National AIA where I described CAD as "looking
through a toilet tissue roll with one eye, and having someone hold my
mouse for 30 seconds every couple of minutes." The issue then was speed,
Our firm adopted DataCAD early on and has used it ever since.
Congrats, you've hung in there. I remember a rented van full of DEC
OS/78 boxes and line printers, and the Houston Instruments DMP-42 plotter
clacking as the pen jumped up and down. How did we get this old?
I was first made aware of DataCAD in 1989 right before my daughter
was born. My business was growing like crazy and I knew I had to implement
CAD in the firm to be competitive. I had heard about a company just
down the road from my offices in Springfield, MA that had both CADD
and CAM software available. I went to a big soirée they had and met
one of their “salesmen”.
I ordered a single seat of DataCAD Version 3.6 and was assured it
would be delivered to me the following week. It did arrive and sat
on a shelf while I investigated the best hardware for it to run
on. I ordered a ’CAD Station’ from Gateway Computers (I think).
I was SO excited! Before the machine even arrived, one of
my corporate clients told me I had better beef up my HVAC system
and add line conditioners to the power panels as “computers are
The day the CAD Station arrived was just like Christmas. I carefully
set it up in a room we had prepared ONLY for CAD and proceeded to
get my “computer guy” over to load the software, lest I goof it
up. He loaded it up per the instructions, handed me the boxes and
registration cards, and said, “Well, there ya go!” I said…”WHAT!!!???,
can’t you help me get this working? I have a lot of money in this
and need it to work TODAY!!!” ”No can do, sorry” he said.
So, for almost a year, I had a really cool “CAD Room” that I would
wow vendors, subs, and clients with and pray they would not ask
for a demo. I finally called CADKEY to ask if they offered any training
and was told, “No we don’t, but we’ve heard good things about Madura
Studios in Boston”.
Mark Madura showed up the following week and showed me how to set
up defaults, templates, directory trees, and then asked if I had
any questions. I said, “Um, Mark, I really appreciate you coming
out and setting all this up but I have no clue what you just did
or said, and before you leave, can you just show me how to draw
walls, maybe with windows, and doors?” He did not blink (or laugh
out loud) and we set up a few more meetings for training. I also
bought my first HP220 from him that day and asked him about this
stuff called E-Mail; “Can you help me with that?” ”Well”, he said,”
my wife likes AOL” (I still have my first AOL account).
Our Firm’s transition from drafting to CAD is another whole chapter,
but I dove in and fully-embraced DataCAD and the DBUG Community
regionally and globally. I learned DOS, BETA’d stuff, tried to write
my own macros, bought every Cheap Tricks Ware item I could, and
more often than not, constantly embarrassed myself with my lack
of understanding of the depth of the program. Mark and the DBUG
gang spoon fed me until I became a “working novice”. I hosted DBUG
Meetings in my Springfield Offices for a number of years and count
DBUG’ers among my favorite humans.
DataCAD is still my only CAD program and has been responsible for
decades of awards and millions of square feet of built environments.
It has allowed me to weather the many recessions over the years,
always knowing “I had the edge” because of the core program and
the added support network that is available 24/7 anywhere in the
Happy 30th Birthday DataCAD! Thank you for all you have done for
so many of us for so long!
--David K. Sargert, LEED AP
My DataCAD story is short but interesting. Before owning my first
computer, I interviewed with a large construction company for the position
of compiling their entire portfolio of house plans into computer format;
specifically a CAD program (I had been designing homes for many years
using a drawing board). The company owner asked me during my interview
if I would be able to handle this transformation of their product. I
convinced him that I could and I was hired. This was on a Friday afternoon.
The next morning, I met with his computer company rep who unveiled
the system I would be using along with the DataCAD package they
had bought for me to use. I sat down in front of the 486 computer
to start. I actually did not know how to turn it on so I told the
tech that I was going to the bathroom and for him to get everything
going and I would be right back. After giving him sufficient time
to get everything “turned on”, I returned, sat down, opened up the
instruction manual for DataCAD, and drew my first line. I worked
all day that Saturday, came back the following morning and worked
all day. Monday morning, I reported to work at my new job and
started drawing house plans.
I love DataCAD. It is a great program.
Many congratulations on the 30th anniversary of DataCAD.
It's such pleasant surprise to get your LinkedIn invitation and I am
very thankful, admire, and appreciate that you thought of me on this
special occasion and still remember my name. I have faint memories of
the work I did for DataCAD porting to Delphi, but that's definitely
been one of my proudest moments. As my first job I have a special place
for this in my heart. Delphi was new in the market and I had some experience
with it from my internship project at a previous company. So I was an
obvious choice for DataCAD migration to Windows using Delphi. I also
had the opportunity to ramp-up Reddy and the team at CAE on Delphi.
Initially, I had no idea what I was getting into. I was just so
excited that I had an opportunity to work on DataCAD that was such
an established product. Honestly, I was surprised that a Windows
version did not already exist. So we were the team that kicked this
off. We probably created the first set of Delphi files by copying
the Pascal code compiling in Delphi. It had been many days and nights
that we had been trying to port the DOS code selectively to Delphi
but nothing was working. The images and functionality looked so
great in the DOS version but nothing was showing up in Delphi.
We had started working on this in India and then were asked to go
to Connecticut and continue working there, and we were very nervous.
Since we were not able to show much in India, we assumed DATACAD
was probably not confident in what was happening there. Then a few
days later I was in my first client meeting with DATACAD when I
first met you. I got my first laptop from DATACAD and it was such
a great feeling to work on it back in 1997. It also made me work
harder and feel more responsible to get the job done.
There was a time when I thought we should not be using Delphi for
this, the maybe we should use C++, and that we were not able to
crack this and wasting the company's money. I was also homesick
so I wanted to get things done faster and go back home. I still
remember the first time I could see the image coming up in Delphi,
I was so excited. We were working at our hotel and I went to Venkat
and Reddy's room to wake them up and show them that it finally worked.
There were days when I used to dream of the code and what could
have been wrong with it. The first image that we could create was
a small image of a house or a room; that moment seems so fresh in
my mind. Finally, our thousands of lines of code was working and
showing images! That one moment instilled so much of confidence
in me; that I could do anything, and together we could achieve everything.
The next day we shared this with Bhavana, Devinder, and the rest
of the team in India. It created so much of excitement for everyone
working on the project.
Thanks a ton for thinking of me, and I must say you are very humble
Good luck with your 30th anniversary celebrations!
I still have my printed manual binders from CADKEY for DataCAD 4
on my desk. I learned so much about being systematic from those extensive
manuals and virtually use the same customized hotkeys in DataCAD 16.
Back in those days we used to talk about staying at the front of the
curve with respect to software releases. I also use ArchiCAD expressly
for BIM, but all of our section details and cross sections are generated
in DataCAD then imported into ArchiCAD as PDF's which makes for much
nicer details. It's efficient that way, at least for us and the work
we do. One of my staff members refuses to use ArchiCAD and prefers DataCAD.
Once you get on a roll, it is difficult to switch.
Keep developing DataCAD, and thanks for your dedication.
I started using DataCAD in 1984 after seeing it at a trade show.
I was using an AT&T 6300 (I think) with an 8086 processor and monochrome
monitor. I've relied on DataCAD ever since and have appreciated it over
these three decades.
Keep up the good work and don't give up.
For the last twenty years, I have been doing patent drawings; so
far, about 350 inventions and a dozen patents, along with my architectural
practice. I doubt I would have had near the output with any other CAD
system. I have not needed the 3D and rendering features, yet. Maybe
I will play with them in retirement; if I ever retire.
--Robert 'Bob' Pollack
I started my own business, Peter Dall'Alba Design, in 1987 and predicting
the transition to CAD, I started looking at the options available. I
attended a local College and participated in an introductory course
to AutoCAD. After taking the course I stated to my wife, "if this is
CAD I will be staying with manual drawing. It is just an electronic
drawing board but more cumbersome".
I looked at various programs over the following years until I received
an invitation to see a demonstration of DataCAD 5. At the end of
the demo I decided that DataCAD matched my vision of what CAD should
be and purchased a copy. I employed a trainee and sat him in front
of the computer and said "Go through the tutorial and learn this."
Once he had a feel for the program, which took a few weeks, I asked
him to customize the default sheet so that the final product matched
the current output of my manual drawings. This took a bit of tweaking
and I started him out with a small commercial job. One day, not
long after, his car broke down on the way to work when I had to
get a preliminary sketch printed out and sent to a client.
I bumbled my way through adding some notes, making some changes,
and printing it out on an A3 dot matrix printer. It was at that
stage I vowed to learn DataCAD myself and never have to be dependent
on staff again. The next project that came up was a two-storey house
cut into the side of a hill. I bit the bullet and started it on
DataCAD. I lost a lot of hair on that project getting familiar with
how to get what I wanted from the program. amongst all the dramas,
I lost work after a crash. So I learnt about saving files the hard
way. I worked late nights to get the job out in the same number
of days as I would have manually, and I was heartened when the builder
didn't notice any difference between the plans I handed over and
my manually-drawn plans.
Within a few months, the builder was in my office and found out
I was on CAD. I organized a few DataCAD training courses over the
next several years. I arranged flights and accommodation for Rod
Hamblin, a very experienced DataCAD user, to travel 1500km North
to run a 5-day training course initially, then later, a 3-day advanced
DataCAD training course. Both courses were very successful and I
learnt to get more from DataCAD. I was asked to be an agent for
DataCAD by CAD Pacific who were a distributer at the time along
with OmniTech. I BETA tested the Build macros for CAD Pacific at
the time and found the benefits they provided again improved DataCAD
for my application (I still use some of those macros with DataCAD).
It took a bit of convincing, but I was able to organize a demonstration
of DataCAD Plus in our area when Rick Morse was in Australia. Sadly,
the development of DataCAD Plus ultimately died. I purchased Spirit
11, organized training for it, but never progressed any further
due to work loads. I am hoping that DataCAD can improve its 3D abilities
in the near future. I have trained a number of staff over the years
and each one has picked up DataCAD easily, even if they were previously
AutoCAD users. Most have continued on with DataCAD instead of the
other programs after leaving my firm.
My business changed to PD Designs in 2012 and I am currently running
DataCAD 16 with the subscription program. We model most of the projects
we design whether it is residential, commercial, or industrial and
hope the development of DataCAD continues. I still remember the
early days starting a hidden-line removal after work to save a perspective
view of a building I modeled and it was just finishing the next
morning when I returned. The same model takes less than a minute
to save the image now. We have modeled plans from the start and
generated elevations from the model but have not spent much time
rendering. This is an area that I have been investigating recently
and find rewarding although I have a long way to go before it matches
the rendered images we receive from my first trainee who now runs
his own business.
My history with DataCAD began in January 1985 with Version 1. I
had formed my own architectural company in the fall of 1984 doing mostly
school work. I allowed one of my senior designers to develop one
particular project. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disaster
and many hours of work was round filed. I made the decision to go CADD
and let everyone go. I purchased DataCAD mid-January and completed a
fairly large elementary school addition (the project whose drawings
were round filed), including site drawings, by the end of February.
I couldn't have been happier with my decision. Even in the old days,
with very little user-interface, I found that DataCAD was designed
with the architect in mind. I have used various CAD programs (ArchiCAD,
AutoCAD, and Arris, etc.) but found that DataCAD was a work horse
for us architects. Very reasonably-priced, great corporate
support (though the manuals are a bit lacking), and tremendous upgrade
offers are unmatched in the industry. DataCAD amazes me in their
sensitivity to users' requests, the constant improvements being
incorporated, and the "family" on the DataCAD Forum.
My website has several drawings and renderings produced all or in
part using DataCAD
Thanks for being instrumental in the success of my architectural
This happened when I was working at CADKEY in Windsor, CT. I was
in the Technical Support area answering calls and received one about
Version 3.6e not installing. Well, after some trial and error (those
were the DOS days), I concluded it might be a problem with the installation
disk. I told the customer I could send him a new disk (remember the
5 ¼” floppies?) and asked him to send me his copy. About 20 min.
later, one of my co-workers placed a fax in my in box. I was speaking
with Steve Ormonde at the time when I picked up the fax, read it, then
burst out laughing. The customer had faxed a photocopied picture of
his installation disk along with the hand-written message, “Here is
my copy, Thanks.”
Congratulations to DataCAD for reaching
the 30 year milestone.
I started with DataCAD 5 in 1994, ten years after starting my design
business in 1983. I have tried numerous CAD programs for my custom home
design business. Some were more expensive and some were downright cheap.
My focus has always been on the two-dimensional working construction
plans. When I was first interested in 3D presentations, I found that
the time and computer memory necessary to create them cut greatly into
my production drawing time in addition to filling up hard drives quickly.
I decided to put off the 3D until it was more cost-effective. Fortunately,
my business has thrived with DataCAD as my production platform of choice
and I have had no real need to offer 3D presentations. That remains
a feature of DataCAD that I have only begun to explore.
I started my practice in 1989 and purchased our first "solo" CAD
station in the early 90's when DataCAD was owned by Microtecture (I
believe the first version we had was 3.6e). Our system was an IBM XT
(I can't remember how slow it was, but 20MHz sounds about right). I
do remember that the graphics card was so large that the case had to
be split for installation. The entire system, plotter and all, was a
$25,000 investment. My goodness, how things have changed!
I had been working for a prior firm back in 1987-88 and had the
opportunity to go to a CAD show in Washington, D.C. and help select
the firm's new software. They said that when the conference would
open, the building would 'lean' toward AutoCAD. I thought that was
hilarious then, and still do. We reviewed, AutoCAD (of course),
DataCAD, and Sigma Arris. I was VERY impressed with DataCAD and
it's structure, even then in its infancy. Unfortunately, we ended
up choosing Sigma Arris for the project management capability it
had. I was instrumental in implementing one of the earliest fully-networked,
PC-based systems on the Left Coast, at a mere cost of $150k.
The introduction of CAD into our industry has completely reinvented
the way we produce and develop projects, and has opened doors to
many, many people (especially those who were formally left hand
challenged). Although we lovingly refer to CAD systems as "electric
pencils," they are much, much more than that. I SO appreciate what
DataCAD has brought to the industry, and my job would not be as
much FUN without it. Thanks for your products and efforts!
I have attached a couple of past projects (concept to completion)
and a current project that is in Design Development. We always start
and finish with DataCAD, with a splash of everything else in-between.
Congratulations with this jubilee!
I was first introduced to DataCAD at the end of 1994 by a letter with
a nice flyer from Ireland (still have it). At that time I had a little
experience with AutoCAD. When I saw the offer on the flyer, and I compared
it with AutoCAD, I couldn't refuse it. So I bought DataCAD 5 in November
1994. I quickly learned to work with it and it was fun, and still is.
In 1996 I upgraded to DataCAD 7, in 1999 to DataCAD 8, in 2002 to DataCAD
10, in 2003 to DataCAD 11, and in 2009 to DataCAD 12.
I wish you continued success.
I started using DataCAD 4 sometime around 1991. It came on a few
5 1/4" floppies and was a gift to me from an architect I had done some
summer work with while on break from college. He was a one-man shop
and was closing his practice to move to a large firm as a partner. He
had selected DataCAD to buy from a Shoot-out article that was written
comparing DataCAD to AutoCRUD [sic]. So, when he was packing up his
office, he gave me the disks and a letter to DataCAD bequeathing me
his software so I could get the updates and fixes that occasionally
At the time I had only dreamed about having a CAD program while
I was spending 18-20 hours a day leaning over a drafting table.
When I got DataCAD, I had a Leading Edge computer I had bought mail-order
through Computer Shopper magazine. It had dual floppy drives and
no hard disk. It was a monochrome green screen monster that I used
for writing specs, letters, and some minor accounting. I got together
with a buddy that was a guru and we ordered the parts I needed to
adapt the Leading Edge computer into the lean mean fighting CAD
machine I needed it to be. That was in the old DOS days.
There's much more to this saga, but I'm sure you are getting hundreds
of these kinds of stories. I have attached one the 3D models I really
enjoyed making. I use 3D mostly for exterior studies for clients,
but this one was different. I was in the process of completing the
construction documents of a commercial building that had a dome
on top of the gable roof. The dome was an interior crow's nest for
view of the Gulf of Mexico. Inside the dome was a curved stair.
My structural engineer was having a difficult time understanding
how to frame this through the sketches I had sent to him, so I made
this to show him how to frame the dome support.
Thanks for all you and your staff do to bring us the best CADD program
on the market!
--Michael R. Spencer
First, let me congratulate you on “Going on 30” at DataCAD.
It’s been a while since we last talked and I hope all is well.
I received your e-mail as well as one from Evan regarding your anniversary
and a request for stories and examples of work using DataCAD. As
one of the “old silver haired architects,” I hope I don’t disappoint
by offering the following:
1. DataCAD Registration Card:
I’ve attached a copy of one of our original registration cards from
Microtecture. We bought 3 workstations in 1988 – Version 3.6.
2. DataCAD – CADKEY Letter:
Attached is a copy of a letter from CADKEY notifying us that our
maintenance agreement would be going through Madura Studios!
Do you remember those days?
3. Madura Studios Proposal:
This attachment is my favorite! It’s a copy of a proposal from
you, with your old company logo, to set up a network in my office
in the early 1990’s. You and I met a long, long time ago when
we were really looking for hardware help. Everything from computers
to plotters, etc. My fondest memories early on, was working
with you. You were always in a good mood with the biggest smile
on your face. You taught me a lot about computer hardware at
the time and I’ll never forget it. I saved this particular
proposal because back in 1993, even though we were one of the 1st
to support DataCAD, my office was living in the “dark ages”.
We had multiple CADD stations but no network. Our network consisted
of moving files from one computer to another using the old 5-1/4”
floppies (a.k.a. 'Sneaker Net'). To think back that I actually
did that is really embarrassing! I remember you telling me
that I should get out of the 18th century and join the rest of you
in the 21st century. Your proposal was immediately accepted
and you set up our 1st true office network. Afterward, we found
ourselves in heaven!
4. Rendering – 120 Blackstone Street:
I have attached a PDF of a rendering of our recently completed historic
renovations and addition to the 120 Blackstone Street project.
5. Rendered Floor Plan:
Drawing A4 is a PDF file of the same project where DataCAD was used
as a presentation tool for project approvals at the BRA and the
Boston Landmarks Commission.
6. Drawings A14 & A19:
These two PDF files are copies of actual contract documents of the
120 Blackstone Street project. One of the selling features
for me back in 1988 was that DataCAD offered "chisel point" fonts
that just blew me away. All of the other CADD software products
looked too "mechanical." From the beginning, DataCAD made the drawings
look like they were actually hand-drawn. To this day, a DataCAD
produced CD set looks gorgeous to me.
That’s it for now. I hope my story above and the attachments do
your anniversary justice.
P.S. I was thinking about my previous e-mail and I forgot to mention
another DataCAD attribute that sold me as well. That was that DataCAD
allowed customization of the output. Not only do I care about
the chisel fonts, but the customization of the arrow feature was
impressive. If you look at our drawings A14 and A19 that I
previously sent, our standard office settings have a thick/heavy
arrow head with a specific aspect ratio and a slender arrow tail. Again,
just another feature that allows an architect to make a CADD generated
drawing look like a hand-drawn document. It's funny that when
I read about the importance of incorporating 2D into 3D within DataCAD,
I feel our office has maximized the potential of the little things
like fonts and arrows making a simple CD drawing look like it was
I was first introduced to DataCAD after graduating from Uni in 1991
and moving north from Perth to Darwin where the firm I was employed
with was just making the transition from board to CAD. The practice
had purchased 4 DataCAD 3.6 licenses from CADKEY which were still packed
in boxes. A week later, once the computers arrived, along came DataCAD
4 so this was version installed. My previous training was with CADKEY’s
Eagle software on an HP Unix system plus Alias Wavefront on Sun Spark
computers as well as some AutoCAD 9-10 use.
It didn’t take me long to pick up DataCAD and within a couple of
weeks I’d produced my first HLR perspective as a junior architect
which was used as the cover sheet to a new hospital project and
took about half an hour to plot on an A1 pen plotter (it took several
attempts as the pens would dry out mid-way and we’d have to restart
the whole plot again). The early days were fun with 386 DX, 4MB
RAM, 200MB hard disk computers and a 14” monitor (plus the ramdrive
we had to configure). It soon became evident around town that there
were still many firms not yet transitioned to CAD and those that
had were on AutoCAD which was primarily 2D with single pen line
weights for the drawing.
DataCAD’s flexible line weights and easy 3D placed it ahead of the
rest allowing my firm to quickly secure more work through better
presentation and efficiency. Fast forward to 2014 and there’s a
hint of the past with Revit now replacing AutoCAD as the main competition.
Yet we still continue to outpace other firms with what DataCAD can
accomplish. It’s been a trustworthy companion all these years and
makes our work enjoyable knowing what we can do with it.
Congratulations on DataCAD's 30 years!
I have been using DataCAD since version 5 when I got permission to transform
the small firm, where I was then a draftsman, from paper and pencil
into the computer age. I spent many hours at home in front of my
computer with headphones going over the teaching cassette tapes until
I felt confident enough to bring that knowledge into the professional
environment. Of course, the more I played with it on my own, the
more things I discovered and learned, and before too long, the office
had transferred entirely to DataCAD generated plans. It was a fun
(and nerve-wracking) time.
In architecture school (The Savannah College of Art & Design,
class of '91), we just dabbled with AutoCAD mainly on the design
side, that is, no focus on generating construction documents for
the real world. Upon graduation, a friend with a small residential
drafting business turned me on to DataCAD. The two things that
impressed me most were that, first of all, it was architecture-specific;
not a catch-all drafting platform; and secondly, it was actually
Since I opened my own firm ten years ago, I continue to use DataCAD
and still like discovering new features and benefits. I am
presently using DataCAD 14. I would one day like to fully explore
the 3D capabilities. I could attach a wide variety of DataCAD examples
through the years, and still might send a few more later, but one
residential project finished recently (it is still being constructed)
stands out. It was a lot of fun to work on just because the
style is so unique in today's world, and to see all the fine detailing
come together in a complete package. I have attached the front
and rear elevations sheet.
Thanks again, and here's to the next thirty!
--Kevin M. Higgins, Architect, P.C.
Sparkman & Associates Architects,
Inc. has been using DataCAD since it came out. When I was hired
in 1993, they were on version 4. DataCAD was my first introduction
to CAD. On my first project, I was given a rudimentary lesson,
and given a design to work on. Unfortunately, as I stayed late
at night to finish the floor plan, when I tried to erase something,
I erased the entire drawing (I hadn’t known “group” was selected). To
this day, I do not use the “group” selection method. At the time,
I didn’t know I could undo the last command, so I stayed up all night
We’ve used the program primarily for drafting 2D construction drawings. We’ve
also used it creatively for presentation drawings (being a small
firm, one has to make do with what one has). At first, our
presentation drawings were done completely by hand, but then we
started using printed CAD drawings we would then render by hand. This
provided good results, but left us with only the one hard copy,
and as the digital age progressed, we felt the need for files we
could e-mail or incorporate into other software programs.
The Riverdale Site Plan is one of these early attempts at a presentation
drawing using hatch patterns of various scales (this was before
associative hatching, btw). With the addition of SPB Fills
and the use of TTF fonts, I was able to get a little more creative,
as shown on the Roane County Courthouse. The Princess Theatre
Poster was used with a combination of DataCAD and SketchUp. I’ve
used DataCAD drawings as a base for creating SketchUp models, and
lately I’ve also imported SketchUp models into DataCAD to generate
drawings; the incorporation of one into the other has become important
to my work.
In addition to the presentation drawings, I’ve attached some examples
of construction drawings. We do quite a bit of historic restoration
/ preservation work. On a recent project, restoration of the
Princess Theatre in Harriman, TN, the use of SPB Fill was instrumental
in recreating the original interior paint scheme and conveying that
information to the painter. It was also used for conveying
exterior color choices. I’ve also attached examples of our
more run-of-the-mill construction drawings, all done in DataCAD.
The Palace Theatre Poster is a PR piece I created to hang in our
office. It also was done entirely in DataCAD, using drawings
pulled from the construction documents, inserting images, and using
TrueType fonts. I’ve also included a close-up as it shows the
progression in our use of DataCAD for presentation drawings.
--Daniel Scott Cooter, Assoc. AIA
After my wife and I purchased our first Apple IIe around 1982 or
so, I quickly started to realize the potential for the computer to revolutionize
architectural design documentation. I attended the 1984 A/E/C Convention
and trade show where Autodesk, Bentley, HP, and many other vendors were
showing off the new CADD software and the hardware required to run it.
The major vendor’s booths were so crowded it was impossible to be able
to speak with anyone in depth about the software. There was one small
booth for a company called Microtecture, however, that didn’t have a
huge crowd around it, and had several representatives that were available
for discussion. I don’t recall who I spoke with, but after quite a bit
of time, and a host of dumb questions on my part, I arranged for a one-on-one
hands-on demonstration at a future date.
The hands-on demonstration was conducted by Bruce Chitea in his
office in Rancho Cucamonga, California on an IBM XT which probably
had 64kb of memory and a 10MB hard drive. He very patiently walked
me through the process of creating a line, adding text, and so on
with what was probably version 2.2. I remember that he would have
to restart the computer about every 15 minutes because DataCAD was
not terribly stable in those days. Having become convinced, hook,
line, and sinker, I went back to my employer and badgered him into
making the $3,600 investment in version 2.5f along with $12,500
in the hardware and another $15,000 for the pen plotter.
After what seemed an eternity, everything arrived, was installed,
and I was ready to set the architecture world on fire. We were working
on a golf clubhouse at the time and I fired up DataCAD to get things
rolling. The program loaded and I was completely stumped on how
to actually apply the tool and my new found CAD skills to generating
something productive. After quite a few late nights and endless
promises to my boss that this was going to pay off, things finally
started coming around, and 29 years later, not a day goes by that
DataCAD isn’t used.
--James Goodman, AIA
Everything I have designed in the last, I forget how many years,
has been designed using DataCAD as my only CAD tool; the list of projects
is pretty long. I quit bothering with marketing quite a while ago realizing
that design work just found me in sufficient quantity to keep me as
busy as I wanted to be. So proposal and project list making got to be
a thing of the past for me about six or seven years ago. I will
have to do a little work to make a current list.
Every project has it's story. Some are pretty spectacular,
and most are probably nothing really to write home about, except
for anyone other than the owners and people who worked with me. In
the aggregate, they add up to about half a lifetime of my
work. They put my daughter through college, and paid off my
home and a couple of rentals that will provide for my retirement. DataCAD
has made doing that easier for me every single day. Some projects
are pretty big, none of those were one man projects, and most had
various people working on them with a variety of software. Some
of those were spectacular and would show off well for you. The San
Diego Convention Center would be one, I think, but I need to check
Some were planning work, or designed but never built. The most spectacular
of those was Greystones Development companies competition winning
design for the Vancouver Convention Center. This project was killed
by a pullout of Canada's federal part of the financing during the
early stages of construction, even as pilings were being driven
in the Harbour for the over-water portion of the pier extensions. The
federal liberals who engineered the pullout, defeated the provincial
Socialists in the next election. A victory that cost the tax
payers of British Columbia about $70 million dollars in design
fees for a project never built, and $700 million in construction
materials sales and jobs that were vaporized merely to win an election.
The architectural team for that project included Musson Cattel Massey,
Aurthur Ericson, both from Vancouver, and EB Zeidler from Toronto.
I was working as Design Director for HNTB's Seattle office. HNTB
was added to the design team because of the depth of our Convention
Center Design experience. We were the only paid member of the competition
design team. We had agreed to help the team develop a winning solution
and then go away. The team won the competition, and for what
ever reason, they kept me on board as a design consultant with their
project team for the work through Design Development.
You may remember my support call to you in Connecticut, after closing
time one evening. I was having trouble with my DataCAD (I don't
remember the version). You were still in the office, I guess working
late as it was after 5:00 p.m. in Connecticut, and you answered
the phone. It turned out that the project I was working on
was so large it was exceeding the file size limit for DataCAD. You
helped step me through replacing the executable for the software
to increase file size limit. That modification increased the
maximum file size by a factor of four. That put everything
to right, and my drawings, which incorporated a quarter million
square feet of exhibit halls, about half that area in additional
meeting spaces, back of house support spaces that doubled the combination
of all that area, plus the entire existing Vancouver Convention
Center, cruise ship terminal in Vancouver harbour which we were
expanding to handle convention use, two additional ships, the Burrard
Inlet Sea Bus terminal, and the linkages of all of that to the light
rail system in Vancouver BC.
No one in Architecture has ever made a more important support call
at a more inopportune time, and gotten better help. You took the
call, and you diagnosed and fixed my problem in a matter of a few
minutes. I have been grateful to you personally for that,
and blessed for having chosen DataCAD every day since.
A list of just my convention facilities which includes the built
work and planning / design work includes:
Seaside civic Center Expansion Masterplan; Bismark Civic Center
Expansion Masterplan; Bannon House Conference Center; Ocean shores
Convention Center; Lynnwood Convention Center; Tacoma Convention
Center; Tri-Cities Convention Center Competition; Kennewick Convention
Center Feasibility Study; Edmonds Performing Arts and Convention
Center Feasibility Study; Leavenworth Event Center Feasibility Study;
Astoria Convention Center Site selection and Feasibility Study;
Richmond BC Convention and Exhibition Center Feasibility Study;
Vancouver B.C. Cruise Ship Terminal Dual Use Analysis; Vancouver
B.C. Trade and Convention Facilities Competition; Thurston County
Convention Center Feasibility Study; Alaska Eagan Convention Center
Replacement Studies; Taipei Nankang World Trade Center; San Diego
Convention Center Expansion; Convention Center, Hotel, and Arena
Prototype for Roadshow LLC; Vancouver WA Convention Center Hotel
and Arena for Roadshow LLC; Bakersfield Arena Feasibility Study;
Washington, D.C. Convention Center Programing; Yakima Center; Meydenbauer
Center; Newport Convention Center; Washington State Convention and
Trade Center; Aerospace Machinists Union Headquarters; West Coast
Hotel and Bank of America Centre; Salt Lake City Airport Conference
Center Hotel; Holiday Inn Hotel Study.
Among those, the original design for Washington State Convention
Center and Meydenbauer Center may not have had work done on them
in DataCAD because they preceded me getting DataCAD. However,
I have done some subsequent work on Washington State Convention
Center using DataCAD since, so perhaps only Meydenbauer should not
be on a list of work done using DataCAD.
Then there are the aviation, light rail, and rubber tired transit
projects, the commercial office, and some retail and miscellaneous
other projects. I just took a peek, and I see that a lot of
the digital record is not on this computer and it may be that one
of the servers that lie dormant in my basement might have to be
fired up to access the files needed to get images from work older
than a half dozen years. That could take some doing. The
images of the Vancouver competition project would be there. I
went to Apple workstation hardware, and IBM cloud servers in 2010
and 2011, and I have continued to use Notes, adding IBM's social
business networking tool Engage to extend my collaboration tools. I
run DataCAD in a Virtual Machine, so far with XP. As a result,
I have been junking PC workstations, mothballing Linux-based Domino
servers and abandoning IBM's Team Room for my project collaboration
database. A lot of older hardware is still here full of
old data but it has not run in quite a while. I will see what I
I am an architect in Muncie, Indiana using DataCAD for more than
24 years now. I want to thank you for DataCAD and all the time,
work, effort, and investment that it takes to develop such a high quality
program for such an affordable price. Our office would not be nearly
as efficient, nor profitable, if it were not for DataCAD and the capabilities
of this great software. I also appreciate this opportunity to share
with you our DataCAD story. I hope you enjoy it.
Taylor Architects Inc. was established in 1985 by J. Robert Taylor. Bob
was a professor of Architecture at Ball State University and had
started Taylor Architects Inc. after also working at another firm
for many years. I was a student of Bob's and got a 'summer
job' drafting while I was attending Ball State University here in
Muncie in 1986. More than 28 years later, I'm still here and
the firm continues with Bob and I as partners and the only staff. However,
in the early 1990's, we had 4-5 people working here in our small
office and really had no place for everyone on big, old drawing
boards (converted doors) complete with parallel bars and triangles. We
would literally cover each other with eraser dust when brushing
off our tables.
At a company Christmas party we were talking about the computer
technology being used at the Ball State University College of Architecture
from which I had recently graduated. We decided right then
and there to take the office into the future of the profession and
convert to CAD from our pencils and templates. Now this was
a big deal for an owner that had no computer skills and not much
interest in learning.
At that time, Ball State was using DataCAD ('Designed by Architects,
for Architects'; if I remember correctly) and a couple of our interns
were familiar with how to use it and what would be needed to convert
this small office into a high tech business. Bob and I agreed
that we should be using the same technology that was being taught
at the College of Architecture so that any interns that we would
hire would already be familiar with the software we were using;
therefore, reducing training and maximizing efficiency. So
we invested in several computers and several licenses of DataCAD. We
also knew that DataCAD was significantly cheaper than that other
CAD software and needed to be careful how much money we spent with
this new venture.
Of course, back then we had systems running MS-DOS and Windows 3.1
and were thrilled with 100MB hard drives and 256MB of RAM. So
we loaded up our DataCAD 4.1 using all the floppy diskettes and
typed rundcad at the command prompt and we were off. We went
entirely to computers and dropped the drawing boards, cold turkey. What
a change. Of course, this was all so new and we wanted to be sure
to do things right, so we spent hours, and days, and weeks establishing
CAD Standards that everyone in the office should use. That
way we all knew how to name our layers, our files, our templates,
and so on so that everyone could understand each other’s drawing
files and work seamlessly between files. Each character position
in the layer name had a meaning and the same with our drawing files
with names limited to eight characters. Needless to say, those
standards are long gone and seem now like a waste of time; but I'm
sure the exercise has paid off somehow, I hope.
One of our first projects on the new computer system was our biggest
project to date. A ten million dollar, twelve building campus
for troubled youth. It was a big deal project and we were still
learning how to work this new technology. Yes, there were some
bumps along the way, but we pushed on, committed to the process
and never going back to the drawing board. One of my early memories
of this time period was when we were trying to finish the construction
drawings for this large project. There were about 85 sheets of drawings
that needed to be plotted. We had this awesome thing called
a pen plotter that would physically draw each and every line and
each and every text character right in front of your eyes. It was
amazing! That machine jumped all over the page drawing lines
here and words there and when it was all done, everything lined
up and looked wonderful; until you found one little mistake and
had to run that sheet all over again. A fully-noted and dimensioned
drawing took about an hour to plot. That machine drowned out
all other noise in the office. So you had to plan your day
around plotting this drawing from one computer, then turning the
data switch to a different computer so someone else could plot.
As the deadline approached for the project to go out for bid, we
spent countless nights at the office feeding paper into the plotter
and waiting for each plot so another could be started, all night
long, 24 hours a day, taking shifts and turns so the others could
get some sleep. When it was done, it was a beautiful sight. Computer
generated construction drawings that were clean, clear, and easy-to-read. So
precise that we just expected the contractors to be able to construct
the buildings within the zero tolerance we had just drawn them --
Throughout the years, interns came and left and Ball State switched
software packages with the blowing of the wind; but we remained
on track with our DataCAD. I saw others trying the different
software offerings and thought to myself how difficult that all
looked. I was happy with my efficient and user-friendly DataCAD. 'm'
to move, 'r' to rotate, 'c' to copy, alt-v for arrows, and so many
more of the quick keys keep the process fluid; I have never used
the toolbar icons. I love the quick keys and all the drawing
space that DataCAD gives me. We upgraded each and every time
a new version came out and I was always thrilled that the added
features allowed me to continue with what I knew, while building
on my existing capabilities.
I remember what a big deal it was when DataCAD went to a native
Windows-based program and I no longer had to exit Windows when I
wanted to work on a drawing for a while, and then exit DataCAD and
type 'win' at the command prompt to go back into Windows to work
on specs, letters, spreadsheets, and other documents. I remember
getting an ink jet plotter and watching my drawing sheets get plotted
in 3-5 minutes instead of an hour; and we now had color! It
was throughout this evolutionary process that we realized that the
computer and DataCAD had made this little two-man firm able to compete
with the big boys and all the larger firms. Now that was fun!
We also realized that the decision made at that Christmas party
so many years ago was the best decision this little firm ever made.
As I said, we continued to upgrade with each new version. I was,
and still am, a subscriber to Cheap Tricks; so we knew what new
features were coming and what to expect as the CAD world continued
to expand. With the addition of solid fills, presentation drawings
became colorful, fun projects that looked professional and were
so easy to read and understand. The addition of XREFs changed
the way we did drawings and has ensured that our M/E/P drawings
are always aligned with and the same as our floor plans. TrueType
fonts gave us variety and boldness with our graphics. Being able
to make PDF files from the plot menu so that our clients could see
drawing updates quickly and easily via e-mail changed the way we
communicate with them and made the review process faster and easier.
The feature that changed everything for us, and has been by far
the most useful and productive, was the ability to insert bitmaps
into the drawing file itself. Not only that, we can draw over
them, and make voids within them, and note them up like drawings. Wow,
what a powerful tool. Our firm does a lot of renovation work;
I mean a lot. Now, instead of having to draw existing elevations,
I just insert a digital photo and my elevations are not only done
almost instantly; but they are absolutely accurate. What you see
is what is there. This has saved us so much time; and saved
us and our clients so much money, that I could not begin to calculate.
So now, all these years later, we are still using DataCAD and still
being very productive, and still able to turn out work quickly and
efficiently. Bob never did learn to use DataCAD. He tried
a few times, but never was able to get comfortable enough to be
efficient. He was very good at securing work and doing preliminary
design sketches. Then I would take the projects and run with
them through design development, construction drawings, and the
construction process. We are down to two licenses of DataCAD
even though I am the only one using it. I use one license at
the office and the other on the rare occasion I need to work from
my computer at home. Now I typically upgrade with every other version
for cost / benefit reasons. We only use the 2D features as
our client base really cannot afford the time and money involved
with 3D images, so we do not take advantage of the modeling enhancements.
We have done some very nice projects, and a lot of just plain maintenance
/ renovation work. With 95% of our business coming from repeat
clients and referrals, we have obviously done something right and
have managed well through the hard economic times architects have
faced. I have included a link to a Dropbox folder that has some
drawings and examples of how we have used DataCAD over the years. In
these examples you won't find any award winning architecture, nor
will you find any dazzling photorealistic renderings (well, maybe
one), but you will see how a small firm has managed to provide quality
architectural service and drawings to its clients for the last 28
years and had a positive impact on our community. Just for
fun, I did include a few of the old DC3 files from that first large
project that started it all. They are just basic plans and
elevations, but they got the job done.
Thanks so much for this opportunity, and for DataCAD. We couldn't
have done it without you!