Michael Riddle's Thoughts » About


mike-riddle.thumbnailI’ve been building CAD products for over 29 years now, starting with Interact for the Marinchip 9900 released back in 1979, one of the first PC-based CAD programs available. Interact went on to become the architectural basis for the early versions of AutoCAD. I was one of the original 18 founders of that company.

In 1985, my new company, Evolution Computing, introduced one of the first under $500 CAD programs, EasyCAD® for DOS. It was designed for ease of use and ease of learning in a field not then known for these attributes. EasyCAD became available bundled with the Microsoft Mouse, a deal that continued for an unprecedented three years.

In 1987, we introduced the world’s first microcomputer CAD program written entirely in assembly language, FastCAD for DOS set performance standards that are still hard to match on the Intel-based hardware on which it ran. Inspired by my first Apple Macintosh, this program featured pull-down menus, icons, and dialog boxes, years before the introduction of the first version of Microsoft Windows®.

I went on to write 7 “from the ground up” generations of CAD programs, each time refining the architecture of the program, as I became fascinated with the impact of architecture and design on program reliability, ease of use, and cost. I applied the technique of “growing” software in a feedback loop with our customers, which I have found to be an outstanding way to develop software. Exploring these ideas has become my driving passion.

I’ve been greatly influenced by attending the Conference on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES) for the last 6 years, which inspired me to develop a new framework library for computer graphics programs intended to solve some of the interoperability problems we face in designing good tools, as well as improving platform portability.

Lately, I’ve been involved in the design of a new CAD user interface and a program intended to bring CAD to the “napkin space” we’ve all used to explore our ideas. My “impossible dream” is to reach the transparency and ease of use of a pencil and paper.

The Digibarn Computer Museum has a lengthy interview I gave concerning the early days of AutoCAD and the CAD industry in general.

Design News nominated me as a finalist for their 1992 “Engineer of the Year” award, and Engineering News-Record listed me as one of the “Top 125 people in the construction industry in the last 125 years” in 1999. Machine Design gave my company, Evolution Computing, its 1992 CAD/CAM leader award.