I first encountered the Mac in 1984 at a home show (of all places). Up to that time I, and the architectural designer I worked for, were die-hard Apple II users. We spent long hours with VisiCalc and Basic, getting the machine to do what we needed. My first thought was that the Mac was a great idea, but slow and impractical. Ironically, it was a demonstration of Excel a year later that pushed me squarely into the Mac camp. I thought, “This is the future!”
It was a year after that when I began experimenting with CAD, and after several disappointing experiments with MiniCad, MacDraft and others best forgotten (but never PowerDraw!), I settled for using MacDraw along with a clever add-on called Sizer and Adjacency. The add-on allowed precision dimensioning and positioning, something not possible then with MacDraw. I struggled, but there was no way I was going to use the pokey, counter-intuitive AutoCAD on a PC. Forget it!
After a stint in graduate school, I tried ClarisCAD and then finally settled for a time on Blueprint, the 2D version of MiniCAD. But I still wasn’t satisfied. Finally, a few years ago, Mike Charek persuaded me to try PowerDraw. I thought it was good, but it was like that first Mac I saw: “Will this cut it?” And then with Mike’s prodding I discovered WildTools. It was like seeing Excel run on that early Mac. “This is it!”, I thought, “Finally, somebody who really knows about drawing is writing tools!” The power and productivity gains were astonishing.
Today, with fast faster processors, large memory spaces and speedy hard drives, the Mac and PowerCADD/WildTools make a powerful, yet fun-to-use engineer’s workstation. I regularly run up to a dozen applications, including frame analyzers, spreadsheets, word processing documents and drawings. It’s the power and flexibility I could only dream about ten years ago. Part of the Mac’s promise then was a computer that didn’t get in the user’s way, opening the door to creativity. PowerCADD and WildTools deliver on that promise for CAD. There’s nothing else like it.
Ed Cundy was an engineer [now retired] in Norway, Maine