In this chapter, I explain the essentials that you need to start drawings. After a little background, I discuss the basics of the screen that you see when you open AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT, and how to use it. If you've never used AutoCAD before, do the "Quick Start: Drawing a Window" chapter first.
AutoCAD and its younger brother, AutoCAD LT, are both created by Autodesk. Together they are the most widely used technical drawing programs anywhere. AutoCAD alone has more than 6,000,000 registered users. According to Autodesk, CAD stands for computer-aided design, but it can also stand for computer-aided drafting or drawing.
The first version of AutoCAD, running under DOS, came out in 1982. AutoCAD was the first significant CAD program to run on a desktop computer. At the time, most other technical drawing programs ran on high-end workstations or even mainframes. AutoCAD LT was introduced in 1993, as a less expensive alternative to AutoCAD, for people who don't need all of AutoCAD's advanced features.
AutoCAD's success has been attributed to its famous open architecture — the flexibility that the end user has to customize the program by using source code files in plain text (ASCII) format — and programming languages (such ...