I have realized lately that there was a kind of unusual and I think singular conjunction going on in Seattle in the late 80s. Naval architecture had just started to go digital. It was new and expensive. Macsurf had just come out and I seem to recall it was $6K a seat. Autocad was $3K a seat. A giant HP pen plotter was $10K. What did a Mac cost? Going from memory here.
Suddenly, here in Seattle there was an explosion of innovation. I always thought that was going on everywhere else, but now I’m not so sure.
Microsoft helped make the PC a less costly alternative to Mac. Dave Vacanti here wrote Prolines hull design software for PC that did Macsurf at 10% the cost. Generic Cadd, also here, for PC was one step behind Autocad, also at 10% of the cost. Zericon did a pen plotter for $2.5K. The guy at plotter accelerator wrote a batchfile that made the Zericon plot in one smooth sweep instead of in the order drawn. Generic also output a flavor of EPS file that Adobe (also down the street) could read easily and with even now, unmatched resolution. So we could all start doing high quality publishing. And all these people knew each other. Dave wrote output specifically for Generic and so on. By ’86 or ’87 I was doing everything in CADD, with files downstreaming from Prolines to Generic. I recall being at a design conference in Southampton in maybe ’88 or ’89. I presented slides of this process and the designs. John Shuttleworth, the then famous as the most digital catamaran designer in the world, told me, “How you do that is great. We can’t do that.”
The only other person I recall seeing do CADD back then was Gino. I was watching him playing with it back at R&D Boatworks. Cam Lewis was there also. His comment was, “Its like an etch a sketch”