AutoCAD is usually a huge part of any design firm’s workflow, and the CAD world has been quite different ever since it was first introduced.
In this post, we take a look at AutoCAD’s timeline of history and its developments. It gives a fairly comprehensive picture of the changes, innovations, and key points in its development.
AutoCAD: An Overview
Before we dive in, let’s give an overview of what AutoCAD is all about.
AutoCAD is a desktop based drafting and design application developed by Autodesk. As mentioned earlier, the program came into existence in 1982 when it was introduced by Autodesk. Since its very first version, Autodesk has continuously updated the software and released multiple versions for various platforms.
The program’s original target users were architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and others who needed to draft blueprints, design mechanical structures, construct buildings, and engineer technical systems.
The earliest version, released in 1982, was AutoCAD 1.0. The first version had a tagline “The first CAD system with a Human Factor”. The fact that Autodesk took such a decision on the name and tagline was the highlight of the initial release. It was the result of a heavy pressure by the external clients, who made sure that Autodesk introduced an app that looked quite similar to a traditional drafting and design process.
Ever since the initial release, Autodesk has continued to update and develop AutoCAD, and introduce new features. In 2019, the latest version is AutoCAD 2019.
Apart from the usual set of drafting functions, AutoCAD has a number of other features and utilities that make it stand apart from the crowd.
Macro programming is one such feature that sets AutoCAD apart from other CAD apps. Macro programming allows users to automate repetitive tasks on the fly. This can reduce a lot of manual labor.
Another utility that comes with AutoCAD is Virtual Plotter Technology (VPT), a component that provides drawings of any size. The other handy feature is Bridge which allows users to make a design from different platforms to AutoCAD, which is quite handy for cross-platform drafting.
Quick & easy tutorials make the learning process easy for new users and also help them get acquainted with the features of AutoCAD. Tutorial videos are
XREF is the official AutoCAD extension and refers to the current XREF table (drawn as a box in the drawing, with holes for each of the newly inserted dimension references). The XREF table contains a record for each new reference. The reference is linked to the referenced object and contains an ID code. The table records each dimension reference that was inserted by the user, as well as the coordinate of the object that the reference is attached to.
VBE is the Visual Basic for Applications Add-in that enables a user to interact with AutoCAD. In Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), AutoCAD is extensible in that it has a component model that allows add-ins to be written in any programming language and the add-ins can be integrated with the software, allowing users to automate certain tasks. The VBE works on Windows only.
.NET is the Visual Studio.NET Add-in. With it, a user can add VBA-like functionality to their AutoCAD drawings, through.NET code. It is a COM automation interface and allows users to interact with AutoCAD’s components, or it may also be used to extend AutoCAD by extending or modifying AutoCAD’s components..NET code can be called from AutoCAD or AutoCAD Add-ins can be written for AutoCAD.
AutoCAD Forms allow users to create simple, reusable, template-based forms that can be used by any drawing. Forms are activated when they are attached to a drawing, and a drawing can contain many forms.
AutoCAD Forms have been replaced by the Addinspace forms as of AutoCAD 2014 Release. Forms are now available to be used as part of the Addinspace addin framework. As of 2018, AutoCAD 2019 Forms were discontinued.
Workflows are one of the new features available in AutoCAD 2013. They are flow-based workflows that can be created as Addins for AutoCAD. Workflows are user-defined, customizable steps that can be triggered using the command palettes. They can be used to execute external programs, batch or vba code, and users can even create simple macros using the Workflow Task Editor.
New command UI
In AutoCAD 2013, all the command palettes and the toolbars were redesigned to have a cleaner and simpler look. The command palettes now have
Open the Autodesk Autocad console.
Locate the Autodesk folder in the applications folder (C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Autocad 2020\).
Open the Autocad.exe file from there.
It will open the main screen.
Click on Connect.
Choose your account type.
Select the license type and click on next.
Enter the serial number and click next.
Click on next.
Click on next.
Save the file and exit.
Go to the Autocad folder.
Go to the protected folder and open it.
You can find the key.
Open the Autocad.exe file from the Autodesk Autocad folder and it will open the Autocad main screen.
Locate the Autocad 2020 folder and open it.
Locate the autocad.ini file and open it.
Find the “license” key you can see and add it to the end of your username like follows (assuming your username is Joe and you want the key to be mykey123):
“..\Program Files\Autodesk\Autocad 2020\..\..\mykey123”.
Open the Autocad.exe file from step 1 and click on the Connect button.
Choose the mykey123 key you have obtained in step 4 from the Autocad 2020 main screen.
Enter your account type and your license type.
Select the correct license type from the dropdown and click next.
Enter your license serial number and click next.
Click on next.
Click on next.
Save the autocad.ini file and close it.
Hope this helps.
Autocad 2020 – a subscription service, so to get Autocad 2020 for free I had to buy it. It is an annual subscription and you can buy it from Autodesk website (I purchased it here,
I downloaded Autocad.exe from
Make your drawings even more accessible to co-workers by storing groups of related symbols as expanded views and retaining the original drawing while you create these views.
Place comments, areas, images, and more from other files on top of existing drawings and insert them into your documents. The Insert Options dialog box includes additional commands for managing comments, areas, and images in imported files.
Support for file attachments in drawings sent to customers, including files sent from applications such as Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, or Word.
New products to help you work more effectively and efficiently:
Working Space view and drawing area:
Get a better view of your drawing area and see more of your drawing at one time without leaving the desktop.
Use snapping to draw lines that automatically fit or match your existing drawing.
Control document formatting, such as the line style and color, and manage a color library.
Add and edit polyline and polygon shapes, including ellipses, circles, and more.
Edit and annotate existing drawings using your preferred tools.
Extend the display of the drawing area with custom tools, including guides and rulers, to help you work more quickly and accurately.
Use the snap to existing objects and task bar to place drawings on your desktop.
Take advantage of more space and features with a wider range of screen resolutions and monitor configurations.
Always draw on the current plotter or plotter size.
View current drawing space, including attached files, from a list of recently used plots.
Get a visual of the layout and fit of your entire drawing space.
Track your drawings by viewing plotters, tag records, and comments, or view a single comment or tag record at a time.
Start a new drawing from a recent plotter or plotter size, and draw on the current plotter or plotter size.
Work with multiple concurrent plots.
Use annotations to add, edit, and reuse tag records and other comments.
Use the current plotter or plotter size to ensure that your layout scales correctly when you zoom.
Render workflows faster by showing labels and other information only when you need it.
CADWiz Tools 2.0:
Get more from your CAD data. Work more effectively with your CAD data by working with all relevant design
OS: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (2.0GHz+), AMD Athlon 64 X2 (2.2GHz+)
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: DirectX 9 compatible with 512MB RAM
Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad (2.6GHz+), AMD Ryzen