John Walker: The Entrepreneur Who Brought CAD to Desktops and Enabled 3D Printing’s Rise

By on February 12th, 2024 in Event, news

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John Walker, Autodesk Founder in 2007 [Source: Flickr / Shaan Hurley CC by 2.0 DEED]

Last week we lost John Walker, founder of Autodesk.

Walker, along with a dozen other computer programmers founded Autodesk way back in 1982 with a mere US$59,000.

Forty-two years ago is a long time and perhaps before the majority of Fabbaloo readers will recall. Back then computing was basically a world of huge mainframes, with companies usually operating a single massive “computer”. This is where the phrase “the computer” comes from; then there was only ONE computer in an organization.

However, 1982 was also the moment when desktop PCs first began to emerge. While there were hobbyists earlier doing experiments, it was the time of the then-amazing IBM PC that made the concept legit.

Many entrepreneurs at the time correctly viewed the introduction of desktop PCs as a new environment that could eventually supercede the mainframe world. Walker was one of those, and Autodesk’s first product was AutoCAD, one of the very first CAD tools for PCs.

It became very popular, and I recall a time when “CAD” meant “AutoCAD”.

Since then Autodesk continually refined their products, and competed with other companies trying to catch up with AutoCAD. Today Autodesk offers a wide variety of specialized tools, and there are a myriad of alternatives from other companies.

These tools largely enabled the popularity of 3D printing because they were the means to create printable 3D models.

All of this was because of Walker’s entrepreneurial steps taken over 40 years ago.

It’s time for all of us to raise a 3D printed cup in a toast to Walker, who helped the 3D print industry become what it is today.

Walker was aged 74.

Via Wikipedia, Scanalyst and Hacker News

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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