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History of IntelliCAD - How AViCAD, BricsCAD and ProgeCAD evolved...

Updated on December 11, 2013

When you think of CAD Software you think of...

When you think of CAD Software you think AutoCAD right? Over time Autodesk has be come the king of the CAD world and over 10 years ago nearly monopolized the CAD industry. Just recently within the last few years CAD software such as AViCAD and BricsCAD are beginning to turn a few heads. But it has taken some time for this to happen.

History of CAD and AutoCAD

CAD has been around for over 40 years and in the beginning was used by companies like General Motors and McDonnell-Douglas. In was not until early 1982 when AutoCAD was first released. Back then you could buy a copy for an unbelievable $1000! With AutoCAD 1.0 release came DXF (or Data eXchange Format). This file sharing technology is one of the key factors of how Autodesk became what is is today

CAD and Mechanical Drawings
CAD and Mechanical Drawings | Source

How IntelliCAD Was Born

Back in 1994 a company named Softdesk developed a 3rd party AEC and GIS application for AutoCAD. AT the same time Softdesk was also developing their own CAD platform behind the curtain, which they called Phoenix. This product would later become IntelliCAD. Then in 1997 Autodesk purchased Softdesk after a FCC ruling prevented them from acquiring IntelliCAD in the same sale. Read more about the anti trust charge on the CNN website.

It was at this point when Visio (A Microsoft Company) purchased the IntelliCAD project. Soon after Microsoft acquired Softdesk and IntelliCAD, it then opened up the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, (also called ITC) where CAD developers could pay a yearly fee to use the code to develop their platforms.

The ITC is still alive and well today - in fact the speed and stability of IntelliCAD has become very impressive. Products like ZWCAD, BriscCAD and ProgeCAD have sprung up left and right to offer a similar "look and feel" to AutoCAD. Infact even standard AutoCAD commands and AutoLISP routines are directly supported within the platform. Above all they can natively read and write AutoCAD DWG files by default.

IntelliCAD - CAD for the future?

Currently AutoCAD sells for about $4,000 for a new license, or $600 for an upgrade from a previous version. Compare this with IntelliCAD 2D/3D versions at around $500-$600. I think many will agree its hard to justify spending a whopping $4000 on a CAD system these days especially when the AutoCAD clones offer identical features found in AutoCAD.  Just recently in the news, announced that it's Engineering Software is now including a free copy of ZWCAD with their software suite to entice their customers. Is this IntelliCAD's time to push through the AutoCAD barrier and make a new way? It will be very interesting to see what happens in next few years.


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