It's amazing to think that AutoCAD came into being more than a quarter of a century ago (AutoCAD 2009 was marked by Autodesk as the 25th Anniversary Edition), at a time when most people thought that personal computers weren't capable of industrial-strength tasks like CAD. (The acronym stands for Computer-Aided Drafting, Computer-Aided Design, or both, depending on whom you talk to.) What's equally amazing to the grizzled old-timer writing these words is the fact that many of today's hotshot AutoCAD users weren't even born when the program first hit the street! It's almost as amazing that, 25 years and counting after its birth, AutoCAD remains the king of the microcomputer CAD hill by a tall margin, making it one of the longest-lived PC programs ever. It's conceivable that the long-term future of CAD may belong to special-purpose, 3D-based software such as the Autodesk Inventor and Revit programs, but for the present and the near future anyway, AutoCAD is where the CAD action is.

AutoCAD has grown more complex over the years, in part to keep up with the increasing complexity of the design and drafting processes that AutoCAD is intended to serve. It's not enough just to draw nice-looking lines anymore. If you want to play CAD with the big boys and girls, you need to carefully organize the objects you draw, their properties, and the files in which they reside. You need to coordinate your CAD work with other people in your office who will be working on or making use of the ...

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