Detail map of Detroit, Michigan, United States Overview map of Detroit, Michigan, United States

A: Detroit, Michigan, United States

General Motors and IBM Develop the First CAD Program

1959 to 1964

In December 1962 DAC-1 (Design Augmented by Computers), the first computer-assisted design (CAD) program, was demonstrated. Development of the program began at GM in Detroit in 1959, with IBM brought in as a partner in 1960. 

"In June 1958 GM Research started a program to better understand the problems and potential improvements in the industrial design process.[1] The team found that each step of the process -from initial conception and body styling through engineering design and finally to detailed parts drawings- used different types of diagrams. Each division within the company had to have their own drawing departments to support them. Time was being lost, and errors introduced, when the diagrams moved from one department to another and had to be re-drawn into the local format. Even the task of looking up the diagrams in the engineering libraries represented a significant amount of time. When modifications were made to drawings, this process repeated itself.

"Convinced that automation was a solution to at least some of these problems, in 1959 Donald Hart tasked the Data Processing department of GM Research to start developing a system to store diagrams for rapid retrieval and simple modifications.[2] The idea was that the diagrams would be digitized into the computer, displayed interactively to allow rotations, scaling and projections, and then printed on demand. Lookups would be handled via punched card queries, which would allow operators to quickly retrieve documents for manipulation into whatever local format the user needed, and then print it. Repetitive queries could be automated simply by saving the card stack." (Wikipedia article on DAC-1, accessed 7-2019).


Fred N. Krull, "The Origin of Computer Graphics within General Motors," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 16 (1994) 40-56

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