Cad/Cam Begining

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AN INDUTRY PERSPECTIVE ON THE BEGININGS OF CAD/CAM

CONTENT

* ABSTRACT
* INTRODUCTION
* PERSONAL ENTRIES
* THE EMERGENCE OF COMPUER PLOTS
* CAM TO THE RESCUE
* DEVELOPING ACCURATE LINES
* THE COSMIC DICE
* A FASCINATING IRONY
* CONCLUSION

AN INDUTRY PERSPECTIVE ON THE BEGININGS OF CAD/CAM

ABSTRACT:
This paper is a discussion of the early days of CAM-CAD at The Boeing Company, covering the period approximately 1956 to 1965. This period saw probably the first successful industrial application of ideas that were gaining ground during the very early days of the computing era. Although the primary goal of the CAD activity was to find better ways of building the 727 airplane, this activity led quickly to the more general area of computer graphics, leading eventually to today’s picture-dominated use of computers. The paper started as an internal exchange of memories between some of the people primarily concerned, but is now offered as the possible start of a discussion involving other such initiatives during that period. 1. INTRODUCTION

Several independent early steps had taken place towards the idea of computer-aided design (CAD) during the early 1960s. CAD is the use of computer technology to aid in the design of a product [3]. That is, it is the mathematical definition of lines and surfaces for drawing lines and cutting parts with the computer. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) comprises the use of computer-controlled manufacturing machinery to assist engineers and machinists in manufacturing or prototyping product components, either with or without the assistance of CAD. CAM certainly preceded CAD and played a pivotal role in bringing CAD to fruition by acting as a drafting machine in the very early stages. All early CAM parts were made from the engineering drawing. The origins of CAM were so widespread that it is difficult to know whether any one group was aware of another. However, the NC machinery suppliers, Kearney & Trecker etc., certainly knew their customers and would have catalyzed their knowing one another, while the Aero-Space industry traditionally collaborated at the technical level however hard they competed in the selling of airplanes. Some early attempts at CAD and CAM systems occurred in the 1950s and early 1960s. We can trace the beginnings of CAD to the late 1950s when Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty developed Pronto, the first commercial numerical- control programming system. In 1960, Ivan Sutherland at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory created Sketchpad, which demonstrated the basic principles and feasibility of computer-aided technical drawing [5]. A brief history of the subject appears at [2]. 2. PERSONAL ENTRIES

This work shows how CAD developed at a time when confidentiality and corporate loyalty was prevalent in many industrial settings. This story is a highly personal rendition of what we believe to be an independent development of CAD. It includes a description of the earlier implementation of CAM, without which CAD could not have happened, given the computer technology of the time.

2.1 The Introduction of Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) in the Boeing Aerospace Factory in Seattle, by Ken McKinley When I joined Boeing in 1952, fresh out of college, our most advanced computers in support of Engineering were CPC's (Card Programmed Calculators). Early in 1953 an IBM 701 was installed, our first electronic computer. (IBM said they would install a total of 18 of them and that was all the world would ever need.) Already in 1956 Boeing ordered a range of newfangled Numerically-Controlled machine tools (how quickly the world became complicated), and Dr. Jim Price and I, under the supervision of Ed Carlberg, were assigned the task of working with Manufacturing to provide a solution to the task of converting the drawing of a part to be milled to the languages of the machines.

I mention Jim Price (one of the smartest and nicest persons I have...
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