The CAD/CAM Hall Of Fame

Oct. 22, 1999
In 1998, Machine Design established the CAD/CAM Hall of Fame to honor and remember landmark events and the people responsible for them

In 1998, Machine Design established the CAD/CAM Hall of Fame to honor and remember landmark events and the people responsible for them. Though developed separately in the late 1950s and early 1960s, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing have grown together and, in parallel with incredible advancements in computer technology, have made a tremendous impact on industry. The inaugural class to the CAD/CAM Hall of Fame included three people whose contributions laid the groundwork for the success of CAD and CAM.

Doctor Ivan Sutherland, who worked with a system called Sketch-Pad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is considered a pioneer in the development of CAD. Parallel work at the General Motors Research Laboratories was conducted by Dr. Patrick Hanratty, who later formed his own company and developed the first commercially available software for mechanical drafting. Mr. John Parsons is considered the originator of numerical control or CAM technology. He did his original work in numerical control to help manufacture helicopter rotor blades.

On November 9, 1999, in Chicago, Machine Design will induct its second class to the CAD/CAM Hall of Fame. These three individuals played a leading role in developing and commercializing CAD/CAM. Dr. Richard H. MacNeal, founder of MSC.Software, was a key player in making Nastran finite-element software a commercial product. Charles S. Hutchins, cofounder, chairman of the board, and director of Manufacturing Data Systems Inc., did pioneering work in numerical control software and is widely recognized as the father of computer-aided manufacturing. And, Dick Bennett, president of FCI Systems Corp., was involved in developing the CADAM drafting program and instrumental in bringing it to the commercial market.

With Machine Design’s history of reporting on CAD/CAM technology and advancements since its laboratory days, coupled with continuous coverage of today’s developments, it’s only natural that we honor those pioneers who’ve made CAD/CAM a phenomenal success.

Dr. Richard H. MacNeal
One of the original founders of MSC.Software Corp. (formerly the MacNeal-Schwendler Corp.), Dr. Richard H. MacNeal’s distinguished career has encompassed several diverse technical areas including early digital and analog computing technologies, airplane, helicopter, spacecraft, and missile dynamics, and structural analysis techniques. His work in commercializing Nastran, an analysis tool widely used by engineers to solve large, complex structural analysis problems using the finite-element-analysis (FEA) method, has introduced engineers to a new dimension of mathematical precision in evaluating complex structures.

In 1943, MacNeal graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University, and in 1949, earned a Doctorate in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He remained at Caltech as an Assistant Professor until 1955, developing analog and digital computer methods to solve structural mechanics problems. Then, after a year with the Lockheed California Co., he joined Computer Engineering Associates in Pasadena, a company that he and other Caltech professors had founded and which supplied analog computers to the aircraft industry to solve statics and dynamics problems, including those involving flutter and vibration.

It was in 1963 that MacNeal, together with Robert Schwendler, founded MSC and began developing digital computer programs for structural analysis. NASA contracted Computer Sciences Corp., which subcontracted MSC, to develop a general-purpose structural analysis program in 1966.

During the project, MacNeal developed most of the mathematical techniques and structural analysis procedures basic to the program’s capabilities. The first operational software version of Nastran was delivered to NASA in 1969. Beginning in 1971, MSC began supplying its proprietary version, MSC.Nastran, to industry on a lease basis.

Recognized for its breadth and scope, MSC.Nastran is said to be the industry’s leading FEA program. FEA, an analytical method used by engineers to determine how well structural designs survive when subjected to stress, vibration, and heat, operates on the premise that a complex structure can be divided into smaller elements, forming a finite-element model that simulates the structure’s physical properties. MSC.Nastran offers a range of analysis types such as linear statics, normal modes, buckling, heat transfer, dynamics, aeroelasticity, response spectrum analysis, and frequency, transient, and random response. Virtually any material type can be modeled, including composites and hyperelastic materials.

Since 1956, MacNeal has been a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and was elected “Fellow” in 1985. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Finite Elements in Analysis and Design and has served on the Board of Governors of Idyllwild, Calif., Arts Foundation since 1984, and as president of that organization from 1987 to 1992. In 1996, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Also the recipient of various certificates of recognition, MacNeal was honored by NASA in 1971 for the successful completion of Nastran, and received the first Biennial Chautauqua Award in 1988 for 25 years of contributions to mechanical computer-aided engineering.

MacNeal received the Sperry Award in 1996 (with Tom Butler of NASA) for Nastran’s contributions to transportation, as well as an Alumni Distinguished Service Award from Caltech in 1998, and the USACM Computation Structural Mechanics Award in 1999.

He has published more than 80 technical papers and is the author of Finite Elements: Their Design and Performance (Marcel Dekker, 1994), The MacNeal-Schwendler Corp.: The First Twenty Years (White & Associates, 1988), and Electric Circuit Analogies for Elastic Structures (Wiley, 1962).

In January, 1997, MacNeal retired as chairman of MSC but continues his work in structural mechanics as a consultant to the company.

Charles S. Hutchins
For more than 35 years, Charles S. Hutchins, cofounder, chairman, and director of Manufacturing Data Systems Inc., has been at the forefront of innovation in machine tool and NC technology. Widely recognized as the father of CAM, he was the inventor of the part programming system that gave birth to CAM and is a driving force behind today’s open-architecture control movement.

Even as a youngster, Hutchins was fascinated with machine tools and manufacturing.

“As a 10-year-old boy, I would visit my Uncle Will’s shop where he had a 16-in. South Bend lathe which he acquired as a war surplus machine from World War I,” Hutchins explains. “He taught me to run that lathe on Saturdays doing small production jobs boring lead gaskets to seal 55-gallon drums for Reichhold Chemical Co. Over time, I learned to make small parts on his ‘new’ 10-in. South Bend lathe. In early summer of 1946, I brought the back cover of Popular Mechanics Magazine home to my Dad. It advertised South Bend lathes as ‘the basic shop tool.’ I suggested that we should have one of these for our shop. My dad’s response, ‘that’s a lot of money, but if you will earn half, I’ll pay the other half.’ It was a deal! I cut grass and shoveled snow and by the spring of 1947 had accumulated the sum of $375. We placed an order with Lee Machinery Co. on Jefferson Ave. in Detroit, and my new lathe arrived sometime in April or May of 1947. I was a proud 13-year-old owner of a 9-in. SBL, serial number 181947.”

In 1948, six years before IBM introduced the first commercial computer, the IBM 650, John Parsons suggested controlling machine tools by numbers. Numerical Control was a radical idea at that time and provided the means for a dramatic change.

In 1957, Hutchins graduated from the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, with a BSE in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics. As a young engineer in 1959, he was working at Buhr Machine Tool Co., Ann Arbor, Mich., when his boss called him to his office. “Chuck,” he said, “there is something happening in our industry called Numerical Control. I don’t know how it will affect us, but I’d like you to learn more about it and let’s see where that takes us.”

“My boss had already enrolled me in a three-day program at Purdue University,” Hutchins explains. “That was the step that propelled me into the world of combining computers and machine tools.” Buhr became an early leader in using NC and computer-assisted programming.

It was Hutchins’ nine years experience at Buhr which gave rise to the concept that would revolutionize NC machine-tool programming. Through long hours spent struggling to make reliable NC tapes, Hutchins became acutely aware of the need to make NC programming more accessible to the average machinist.

In 1967, Hutchins began the software project that became the first MDSI Compact II, which used computers for programming machine tools. The 1967 computer had 48 kbytes of user random-access memory and 50 Mbytes of disk storage. Shared by many users, it filled a large room.

Many of Hutchins’ colleagues had scoffed at the idea of installing an NC language processor on a timesharing computer, arguing that the timesharing system’s small memory would never support NC programming.

Hutchins proved his critics wrong and a year later, Bruce Nourse, current MDSI vice president of R&D and system designer for OpenCNC, joined this effort. In 1969, Hutchins and entrepreneur Ken Stephanz became cofounders of the original company sharing the common name of Manufacturing Data Systems Inc. MDSI is said to be the pioneer of computer-aided manufacturing. Throughout a 15-year period, 20,000 machinists around the world were trained in metalcutting manufacturing processes in programs created through Compact II.

The original MDSI was purchased in 1981 by Schlumberger for more than $200 million, who eventually changed its name to Applicon.

Hutchins retired at age 45, but in 1985 he began pursuing an idea that became the basis for the new MDSI. This idea, born out of Hutchins’ struggles to get information from traditional “black-box” controls, was to provide an open-architecture machine control. Today, MDSI’s OpenCNC is reported to be the only machine control software that works with off-the-shelf PC technology, and like Compact II, puts CNC control in the hands of machine operators.

“Actually, it’s the realization of a cartoon that I saw in the early 1960s,” explains Hutchins. “It showed a manufacturing executive sitting on the edge of his bed, his wife already under the covers. As he took off his slippers, he exclaimed, ‘My God, Emma, I forgot to turn off the factory!’ There you have it in a nutshell. The addition of a modern machine tool, as a peripheral device, attached to a personal computer, integrated on a network in a manufacturing facility, combined with the dreams of some visionary manufacturing people, now has the potential of lights-out manufacturing in small shops around the world.”

Hutchins’ devotion and enthusiasm is apparent as he points out, “Never in the history of this country have we had the standard of living and creature comforts that we have today. The world is watching. The opportunities have never been greater. Let’s go get em!”

Dick Bennett
Upon graduation from the University of Michigan with an electrical engineering degree, Dick Bennett worked briefly in his hometown of Detroit as an application programmer with Continental Aviation. However, the lure of sun, aerospace, and computer graphics attracted Bennett to Lockheed in Burbank, Calif., in 1966.

One year earlier, after IBM announced its new computer graphics technology, a model 2250 refresh CRT, Lockheed brought together a team of engineers to best determine applications for IBM’s new equipment. After looking at both MIT’s Sketch-Pad and IBM’s Alpine system, Lockheed decided to develop a production design and drafting system that would simulate standard engineers’ tools such as scales, protractors, and compasses.

Lockheed began the project in mid-1965 and Bennett joined a small group of programmers on the project in January 1966. The program logic design and graphical interface programming was completed, and the initial geometry creation was almost finished. However, because no 2250 display devices were available, there had been no testing.

“A couple of months after I arrived, the first 2250 display device in the Western U.S. was delivered to the campus of UCLA, and I received my first assignment — debug and test the system,” Bennett explains. He teamed with a fellow employee and several IBM systems engineers to tackle the problem. Within a month or so the program was working, and shortly thereafter, a 2250 display was delivered to Lockheed.

Having generated an engineering drawing of a part and created the numerical control data to machine it, the next challenge was twofold. First, the prototype needed to be changed into a production system that engineers could use. Second, the system had to be made into an economically viable tool that Lockheed designers and draftsmen could afford.

Bennett tackled the production side by developing a storage method for drawings on the computer’s magnetic media. Using ideas that IBM had developed in its operating system for managing files, which was available on microfiche in the 1970s, combined with requirements specific to engineering drawings, Bennett developed a system to file, retrieve, and archive thousands of drawings. Virtually the same system is still in existence today on current versions of mainframe CADAM.

With this task completed, Lockheed had a production system capable of creating, modifying, plotting, filing, and retrieving engineering drawings. However, Bennett still had to reduce the cost of the system, which was developed on a computer with 256 kbytes of memory — shared between the operating system and the applications — and sporting a whopping price tag of several million dollars. And each terminal was priced at more than $200,000.

The initial operating system did not allow timesharing, and each computer task could run only one display device. But, within a year, IBM offered a time-sharing system which increased the number of supported displays significantly.

“I developed a programming technique referred to at the time as “roll in/roll out” and has since become known as memory management,” Bennett explains. “Managing the computer memory from within the application program removed any practical limits on the number of terminals that could be supported.”

With this scheme in place, Lockheed had developed a production design/drafting software application that could produce engineering drawings, provide subsecond response for a large number of users, and manage hardcopies and files. The system’s cost was reduced by more than 90% and, within a year, Lockheed had produced more than 5,000 production drawings. Before the 70s were over, more than 1 million production drawings were created using this system.

In 1970, Bennett enrolled in Whitter Law School while retaining his position with Lockheed. A near financial disaster in 1972 related to Lockheed’s L1011 commercial-airplane project had the company rethinking its entire business strategy and beginning to investigate computer-software licensing. Lockheed’s design/drafting system was officially trademarked as the CADAM system and the company’s legal department began trying to license the system to other airframe manufacturers. According to Bennett, the idea caught on like wildfire with Lockheed aerospace competitors. In the first 18 months CADAM was licensed to four major aerospace companies. The legal department tapped Bennett’s computer system background and legal training to perform customer presentations, contract negotiations, and product installation. He was named program manager responsible for the project within Lockheed.

Bennett graduated from law school in 1974 and passed the bar exam, but decided to stay at Lockheed.

Meanwhile, CADAM was generating quite a bit of hardware revenue. Bennett estimates for every dollar that Lockheed generated licensing the software, IBM was getting $10 to $20 on the hardware.

Not surprising, IBM was interested and began marketing CADAM in 1978. IBM created a special product category, a marketing overlay organization, and began to license it on a worldwide basis. With a stroke of the pen, Lockheed had signed up with one of the world’s foremost marketing and sales organizations.

Lockheed formed CADAM Inc. in 1982, a wholly owned subsidiary staffed by employees associated with the CADAM sales, support, and development effort. Bennett was named vice president of sales and marketing.

Within a year, CADAM’s technical features combined with IBM’s marketing presence made it the No. 1 CAD system in the world, says Bennett.

“In 1985, I left CADAM Inc. and joined Lockheed Corporate, reporting directly to the group president of the Lockheed Information Systems Group (ISG),” he says. “At the time ISG had more than $1 billion in annual revenue and was made up of CalComp, Cadam Inc., Metier, Datacom, and DataPlan companies.

“Lockheed hoped to acquire additional commercial software companies to expand this Group. However, because of a corporate takeover threat in 1989, Lockheed decided to abandon the effort. They disbanded the Group and sold off as many businesses as possible.”

Cadam Inc. was sold to IBM in 1989, and Bennett has since left to start his own company, FCI Systems Corp., (which stands for Formerly Cadam Inc.). Initially, FCI was a VAR reselling the PC version of CADAM, the Helix Design System from MicroCadam Inc., and other related engineering-software applications. Today, while still selling the Helix system, FCI focuses on bringing business-related technology to small and midsized companies.

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