From Whale of an Idea to Software Giant: The John Walker and AutoCAD Story

john walker podcast
From Whale of an Idea to Software Giant: The John Walker and AutoCAD Story

From Whale of an Idea to Software Giant: The John Walker and AutoCAD Story

This episode of the AEC Trailblazers: The Founders Files, pays tribute to John Walker, the visionary who founded Autodesk and AutoCAD, the software that transformed design by making it digital and accessible. John, who passed away earlier this year, left an indelible mark on our industry and the way we work every day.

We’ll delve into John’s life story, from the early days of Autodesk to witnessing its incredible transformation. Back then, this “AEC startup” (though we wouldn’t have called it that at the time!) was just a whale of an idea. In 1982, a pivotal trade show moment shifted the company’s focus to AutoCAD, sparking a success story fueled by unexpected turns and remarkable adaptation. This agility became the cornerstone of building a software giant.

AutoCAD’s evolution reflects its constant dedication to improvement. From early 2D drafting to 3D modeling, mobile access, and AI integration, the software has consistently stayed relevant, keeping pace with ever-changing design needs.

Join us as we celebrate John’s legacy, which lives through the continued development of Autodesk, as well as the impact of his futuristic visions on various fields.

A tribute to

Picture of John Walker<br>Co-founder of Autodesk

John Walker
Co-founder of Autodesk

John Walker was an American computer programmer, author, and co-founder of the computer-aided design software company Autodesk. He was later recognized for his writing on his website Fourmilab.

In 1982, John Walker and 12 other programmers pooled US$59,000 to start Autodesk, and began working on several computer applications. The first completed was AutoCAD, a software application for computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting.

The company went public in 1985. By mid-1986, the company had grown to 255 employees with annual sales of over $40 million. That year, Walker resigned as chairman and president of the company, continuing to work as a programmer. In 1989, Walker's book, *The Autodesk File*, was published. It describes his experiences at Autodesk, based around internal documents (particularly email) of the company.

Walker moved to Switzerland in 1991. By 1994, when he resigned from the company, it was the sixth-largest personal computer software company in the world, primarily from the sales of AutoCAD. Walker owned more than 850,000 shares of Autodesk at the time of his departure.

After Autodesk, John published on his personal domain, "Fourmi Lab". On his Web site, Walker published about his personal projects, including a hardware random number generator called HotBits, along with software that he wrote and freely distributed, such as his Earth and Moon viewer.

Picture of Valentin Noves <br>CEO at e-verse

Valentin Noves
CEO at e-verse

A versatile leader with broad exposure to projects and procedures and an in-depth understanding of technology services and product development. He has a tremendous passion for working in teams driven to provide remarkable software development services that disrupt the status quo. He is a creative problem solver who is equally comfortable rolling up his sleeves or leading teams with a make-it-happen attitude.

Picture of Samuel Barcenas <br>BIM Consultant Founder of AVES

Samuel Barcenas
BIM Consultant Founder of AVES

A highly motivated and experienced architect with a proven track record of success in designing and delivering innovative and sustainable buildings. He is also a BIM expert with a deep understanding of how to use technology to improve the efficiency and quality of the design and construction process.


DESIGN PROCESS ACCELERATORS FOR THE AEC INDUSTRY. e-verse's main expertise is to automate, streamline, and connect every stage of the design process, building solutions to help your business grow at a faster pace by leveraging technology. As architects and engineers who code, they transform your design construction requirement into accurate solutions that fit your needs.

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