AutoCAD Interface.png
AutoCAD 2012
Developer(s) Autodesk
Initial release December 1982
Stable release 2012 / March 22, 2011; 7 months ago (2011-03-22)
Operating system Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android
Type CAD
License Proprietary

AutoCAD is a CAD software application for 2D and 3D design and drafting. It is developed and sold by Autodesk, Inc. First released in December 1982, AutoCAD was one of the first CAD programs to run on personal computers, notably the IBM PC. At that time, most other CAD programs ran on mainframe computers or mini-computers that were connected to a graphics computer terminal for each user. AutoCAD derived from a program called Interact, which was written in a proprietary language (SPL) and ran on the Marinchip Systems 9900 computer (Marinchip was owned by Autodesk co-founders John Walker and Dan Drake.)

When Marinchip Software Partners (later renamed Autodesk) formed, they decided to re-code Interact in C and PL/1 They chose C because it seemed to be the biggest upcoming language. 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 even had to work with the compiler developer (Lattice) to fix certain limitations to get AutoCAD to run.[1] Early releases of AutoCAD used primitive entities — lines, polylines, circles, arcs, and text — to construct more complex objects. Since the mid-1990s, AutoCAD has supported custom objects through its C++ Application Programming Interface (API). Modern AutoCAD includes a full set of basic solid modeling and 3D tools. With the release of AutoCAD 2007 came improved 3D modeling, which meant better navigation when working in 3D. Moreover, it became easier to edit 3D models. The mental ray engine was included in rendering, it was now possible to do quality renderings. AutoCAD 2010 introduced parametric functionality and mesh modeling.


Newest Release

AutoCAD 2012 for Windows

The latest AutoCAD release is AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD 2012 for Mac. This release marked the 26th major release for the AutoCAD for Windows, and the second consecutive year for AutoCAD for Mac.[2] Both the Windows and the Mac version can be found on the Autodesk website along with more detailed information about purchasing, licensing, and terms of agreement.

Windows Version

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.[2] These changes and features included: increased canvas control, associated arrays, improved 3D model manipulation, and other less noticeable additions.[2] 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.[2] Autodesk has also chosen to allow users to purchase companion applications directly within the AutoCAD 2012 program. [3] The newest release of AutoCAD also came with new system requirements and recommendations in order to run AutoCAD 2012. [2]

System Requirements:
  • Operating System: Windows 7, Windows Vista (SP2 or later), or Windows XP (SP3 or later); 64-bit or 32-bit
  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon dual-core 1.6GHz or greater (3.0GHz or greater recommended for Windows 7 or Vista or 3D modeling; AMD64 or Intel EM64T processor for 64-bit version)
  • Video: 1024x768 VGA with true color minimum (for 3D modeling: 1280x1024 with 128MB video RAM or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft Direct3D-capable workstation-class graphics card)
  • Disk Space: 2GB free disk space for installation (1.4GB for AutoCAD LT)
  • Memory: 2GB RAM (1GB for AutoCAD LT) [2]

Mac Version

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 the fall of 2010 though, Autodesk announced that they would once again support Apple's Mac OS X software in their future version of AutoCAD. [4] Most of the same features found in the 2012 Windows version can also be found in the 2012 Mac version as well. 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 Apple applications. [5] Autodesk has also built in various features in order to take full advantage of Apple's trackpad capabilities as well as the fullscreen mode in Apple's OS X Lion. [5] [6] 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. [6] The following system requirements are recommend when using the AutoCAD 2012 for Mac program. [7]

System Requirements:
  • Apple® Mac® Pro 4,1 or later; MacBook® Pro 5,1 or later (MacBook Pro 6,1 or later recommended); iMac® 8,1 or later (iMac 11,1 or later recommended);
Mac® mini 3,1 or later (Mac mini 4,1 or later recommended); MacBook Air® 2,1 or later; MacBook® 5,1 or later (MacBook 7,1 or later recommended)
  • Mac OS® X v10.6.4 or later; 64-bit Intel® processor
  • 3 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 2.5 GB free disk space for download and installation (3 GB recommended)
  • All graphics cards on supported hardware
  • 1,280 x 800 display with true color (1,600 x 1,200 with true color recommended)
  • All Mac OS X supported language operating systems Apple® Mouse, Apple Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, MacBook® Pro trackpad, or Microsoft®-compliant mouse. [7]

With Autodesk's move to support Apple's Mac OS X, they have now decided to allow Mac users to purchase the AutoCAD LT 2012 version through the Mac App Store for $899.99. The full featured version of AutoCAD 2012 for Mac, however, is not currently available through the Mac App Store due to the price limit of $999 set by Apple. AutoCAD 2012 for Mac can currently be purchased only from Autodesk's website for $3995. [4]


AutoCAD LT is the lower cost version of AutoCAD, albeit, with reduced capabilities, first released in November 1993. AutoCAD LT, priced at $495, became the first product in the company's history priced below $1000 to bear the AutoCAD name. In addition to being sold directly by Autodesk, it can also be purchased at computer stores, unlike the full version of AutoCAD, which must be purchased from official Autodesk dealers. Autodesk developed AutoCAD LT to have an entry-level CAD package to compete in the lower price level.

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[8] in the software's features:

  • 3D Capabilities: AutoCAD LT lacks the ability to create, visualize and render 3D models as well as 3D printing.
  • Network Licensing: AutoCAD LT cannot be used on multiple machines over a network.
  • Customization: AutoCAD LT does not support customization with LISP, ARX, and VBA.
  • Management and automation capabilities with Sheet Set Manager and Action Recorder.
  • CAD standards management tools.


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AutoCAD WS Mobile App (iOS)

In 2010, Autodesk released their first AutoCAD mobile application AutoCAD WS. The mobile app allows registered users to “view, edit, and share” their work wherever they go. [9] The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store for iOS users or from the Amazon Appstore for Android users. A registered license is required to use the mobile app. Both the android and iOS versions allow users to save files online and offline when no internet connection is available. [10] Autodesk also announced future plans to store the majority of their software to the cloud (cloud computing) starting with the AutoCAD WS mobile app. [11]

Autodesk officially released their iOS mobile app in September of 2010. [5] This was the start of their mobile application marketing campaign. Since then the release has grown from just the iPhone to the iPod Touch, iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets. [6] The AutoCAD WS app has several of the desktop AutoCAD features, but is limited in other areas. The app provides the ability to draw lines, circles, and other various shapes. Text and comment boxes are supported features. Colors, Layers, and measurement are also included features found in the mobile app. The latest version, version 1.3, was released on August 17, 2011 and added the following features: unit typing, layer visibility, area measurement, and file management. [9] Both landscape and portrait modes are supported while using the app.

Autodesk announced that they would release their Android mobile app on April 20, 2011. [10] The app is very similar to the iOS app with basically all the same features and abilities. The Android AutoCAD WS mobile app has some unique features not found in the iOS version. The Android App allows users to insert text or captions by voice commands instead of forcing them to manually input the text into the drawings. [10] This feature is not currently supported on the iOS mobile device.

AutoCAD Freestyle

Built on the AutoCAD platform, AutoCAD Freestyle is a simplified, low-cost (US$149) application that makes it easy to create accurate, professional-looking 2D drawings and sketches. This software has been discontinued by Autodesk.

Student Versions

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 imported.[12]

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

Vertical Programs

Autodesk has also developed a few vertical programs, for discipline-specific enhancements. AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop), for example, 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.

The following are examples of industry-specific CAD applications built on the AutoCAD platform: AutoCAD Electrical is designed specifically to aid in the creation of electrical controls, [13] AutoCAD Civil 3D is designed to aid civil engineers in the creation of land, transportation, and water systems, [14] AutoCAD Map 3D is designed to aid in the planning and mapping of model infrastructures, [15] AutoCAD Mechanical is designed for mechanical engineers to design parts ranging in all kinds of fields but mainly automotive, [16] AutoCAD MEP is designed to aid in the drawing of plumbing systems, [17] AutoCAD P&ID is designed specifically for creating piping and instrumentation design, [18] AutoCAD Plan 3D is designed to aid users in drawing process plants,[19] AutoCAD Raster Design is designed to allow users to "clean up, edit, and enhance" scanned images, [20] AutoCAD Revit Architecture Suite contains AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture to create one sign program, [21] AutoCAD Revit MEP Suite is designed to add the drawing of building systems,[22] AutoCAD Revit Structure Suite is designed to allow manufactions to take their drawings from the design stage to the fabrication stage, [23] AutoCAD Structural Detailing is designed specifically for creating steel and concrete reinforcement drawings,[24] AutoCAD Utility Design is designed mainly for electrical drawings involving the creation of both above and underground distribution networks.[25]

File Formats

AutoCAD's native file format, DWG, and to a lesser extent, its interchange file format, DXF, have become de facto standards for CAD data interoperability. AutoCAD in recent years has included support for DWF, a format developed and promoted by Autodesk for publishing CAD data. In 2006, Autodesk estimated the number of active DWG files at in excess of one billion.

In the past, Autodesk has estimated the total number of existing DWG files as more than three billion.[26]

Supported Languages

AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are available for English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Vietnamese. 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.

Supported API's

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 products extending AutoCAD functionality to specific fields, to create products such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D, or third-party AutoCAD-based applications.

Official Name Version Release Date of release Comments
AutoCAD Version 1.0 1.0 1 1982, December DWG R1.0 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 1.2 1.2 2 1983, April DWG R1.2 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 1.3 1.3 3 1983, August DWG R1.3 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 1.4 1.4 4 1983, October DWG R1.4 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.0 2.0 5 1984, October DWG R2.05 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.1 2.1 6 1985, May DWG R2.1 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.5 2.5 7 1986, June DWG R2.5 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Version 2.6 2.6 8 1987, April DWG R2.6 file format introduced. Last version to run without a math co-processor.
AutoCAD Release 9 9.0 9 1987, September DWG R9 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Release 10 10.0 10 1988, October DWG R10 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Release 11 11.0 11 1990, October DWG R11 file format introduced.
AutoCAD Release 12 12.0 12 1992, June DWG R11/R12 file format introduced. Last release for Apple Macintosh till 2010.
AutoCAD Release 13 13.0 13 1994, November DWG R13 file format introduced. Last release for Unix, MS-DOS and Windows 3.11.
AutoCAD Release 14 14.0 14 1997, February DWG R14 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 2000 15.0 15 1999, March DWG 2000 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 2000i 15.1 16 2000, July
AutoCAD 2002 15.6 17 2001, June
AutoCAD 2004 16.0 18 2003, March DWG 2004 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 2005 16.1 19 2004, March
AutoCAD 2006 16.2 20 2005, March
AutoCAD 2007 17.0 21 2006, March DWG 2007 file format introduced.
AutoCAD 2008 17.1 22 2007, March Annotative Objects introduced. First release for the x86-64 versions of Windows XP and Vista.
AutoCAD 2009 17.2 23 2008, March Revisions to the user interface including the option of a Microsoft Office 2007-like tabbed ribbon.
AutoCAD 2010 18.0 24 2009, March 24 DWG 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 2011 18.1 25 2010, March 25 Surface Modeling, Surface Analysis and Object Transparency introduced. October 15, 2010 AutoCAD 2011 for Mac was released.
AutoCAD 2012 18.2 26 2011, March 22 Associative Array, Model Documentation. August 19, 2011 AutoCAD 2012 for Mac was released.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cohn, David (1 July 2011). "AutoCAD 2012 Review: Software Provides a Wealth of Improvements". DE Desktop Engineering. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Ozler, Levent. "Companion Apps Now Available in AutoCAD 2012". Dexigner. Dexigner Network. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Clark, Don (16 August 2011). autodesk-adopts-apple-app-store-for-mac-software/?KEYWORDS=AutoCAD "Autodesk Adopts Apple App Store for Mac Software". The Wall Street Journal. autodesk-adopts-apple-app-store-for-mac-software/?KEYWORDS=AutoCAD. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Ozler, Levent. "AutoCAD for Mac 2012: Built for Mac OS X Lion". Dexigner. Dexigner Network. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Ozler, Levent. "AutoCAD for Mac and AutoCAD WS App for iPad and iPhone". Dexigner. Dexigner Network. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "System Requirements Mac 2012". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Autodesk. "AutoCAD WS". iTunes Preview. Apple. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c Ozler, Levent. "AutoCAD WS for Android". Dexigner. Dexigner Network. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Thomson, Iain. "Autodesk Shifts Design Apps to the Cloud". The A Register. The A Register. Retrieved 30 September 2011. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "AutoCAD Electrical". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "AutoCAD Civil 3D". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "AutoCAD Map 3D". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "AutoCAD Mechanical". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "AutoCAD MEP". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "AutoCAD P&ID". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "AutoCAD Plan 3D". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  20. ^ "AutoCAD Raster Design". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "AutoCAD Revit Architecture Suite". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  22. ^ "AutoCAD Revit MEP". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  23. ^ "AutoCAD Revit Structure Suit". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "AutoCAD Structural Detailing". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "AutoCAD Utility Design". Autodesk. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  26. ^ AutoCAD and it's Applications

External links

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