DaxCAD is actually still being used. By a British manufacturing customer! Read on!
What is DAXCAD
DaxCAD was and still is a CAD Package used by a handful of companies throughout the world in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It origins stem from Paisley College of Technology, now known as Paisley University. It was written to be able to have a cheap, simple to use CAD application for a range of industries. As it happens it was sold to just a about all sectors from government to finance. In fact General Accident insurance used DaxCAD to design all of their regional offices. DaxCAD was integrated by Racal as their circuit board designer and by Advent as their mapping tool. All in all, not a bad pedigree, but if you on the web, nothing exists regarding this interesting little bit of software.
DaxCAD was started by and was the brainchild of Kirk Ramsay, a senior lecturer at Paisley College. He had started a small software company, Practical Technology Ltd in Glasgow around 1984. The company was founded at tie when IT was starting become more commonly available in the form of downsized workstations. The intent of the company was to ride the wave and make as the name suggests, technology practical.
After looking at the existing market offerings for CAD, namely Dogs and CV, Kirk felt that there was a space for a product which was cheap and easy to use, as both of these packages were enormously expensive and rather hard and complex. So the DaxCAD project was born. With a handful of software engineers Kirk set about writing a CAD package to compete with companies and products much larger. The guys involved were – Kirk, Neil Mackinley, Miles Midgley, Mhari Watt and Charlie Ward. A couple of others came on board, Gerry Goervan and Alex Alan to provide a sales team.
It took around a year to get the whole thing written into a product. The language was of course Fortran and the chosen platform for a launch was Apollo running its Aegis operating system. (Hp was purchased by Apollo in 1989). Apollo was a company formed to build high powered workstations capable of running CAD applications at a reasonable cost. They used a Motorola 68000 processor. (Actually it was a double up arrangement)
So a product was born. The office in Glasgow was at 120 Cornwall Street in Clutha House on the South Side of Glasgow. PT did open a southern office in Guilford a couple of years later. It was about this time that the PC market was starting to expand and CAD products such as AutoCAD and RoboCAD were appearing on AT PCs. Practical Technology had based its product around Apollo, however it became clear that Apollo, albeit was a lot cheaper than other systems, the PC was going to be a mass market product. So an ambitious project was started to shoehorn essentially a workstation product written in Fortran onto a PC.
In technical terms, the software utilised the superb memory management capabilities of the Aegis operating system. Basically you could allocate as much memory as you had disk space. So 20 and 40 Megabyte disk drives gave pretty respectable memory capabilities of an application. However the PC as it was then with MSDOS was limited to meagre 640k. So that’s why the shoehorn had to be used, Miles Midgley constructed an amazing Fortran overlay arrangement where DaxCAD was swapped in and out of memory and the drawing data was written out to disk. To save space screen drivers were written in Assembler. We still managed to keep the two versions running so that PC users could have the same functionality.
Checkout my DAXCAD page at http://www.dhrobertson.com/daxcad.htm for more info on this legacy software. We are wikipedia as well! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daxcad
And more posts on this site: https://daverobertson63.wordpress.com/category/daxcad/