27 thoughts on “Designer life before AutoCAD

  1. It’s interesting to me how almost flat all the drafting tables are.

    I used a drafting table when I was in college and had it set up at about 30 degrees.

  2. Old enough to remember drafting class in high school. CAD was out but still new. T squares everywhere.

  3. When I went through drafting school in the early 90’s, our teacher started us out with tables, scales & pencils. One of our assignments was to fill a notebook with hand lettering. Thankfully, we moved on to ACAD, but having that original knowledge was great.

  4. 30 year engineer here.

    What else is striking about this is the lack of privacy, no women, no person of color, no phones.

    Edit, also where is the cloud of cigarette and pipe smoke and wickedly full ashtrays?

  5. I’m a Civil Engineering Designer. My entire job is AutoCAD. I can’t imagine how much work this was. But I also imagine they made less changes. I have to scan and look at old plans all the time and the amount of detail we put in now is 100x what it use to be but it’s still crazy to think about having to do it all by hand.

  6. [Here](https://i.imgur.com/8ZxFblj.jpg?desktop=1) is a higher quality and non-horizontally flipped version of this image. Per [here](https://www.archdaily.com/940493/etheral-luminosity-from-above-general-motors-technical-center/5ece383eb35765c67300017b-etheral-luminosity-from-above-general-motors-technical-center-photo?next_project=no):

    > Drawing room at General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan / USA. Architect: Eero Saarinen.. Image © General Motors

  7. My dad was a civil engineer in the eighties, and I remember visiting his office as a kid. I can smell this place in my head.

  8. And being the mack-daddy absolute stud of an engineer earned you the privilege of wearing a blue shirt.

  9. I’m at an age when I was on the cusp of change from hand drawn to computer drawn. We were taught in University how to do proper hand drawn plans, proper lettering technique and everything. First job out of Uni and I was straight onto a computer.

  10. I used to work for a large aerospace company that did work on the space shuttle. Every once in a while I had to go sort through all of the old drawings. Nothing had been digitized. The level of detail they accomplished without mistake is insane. Imagine a turbine with hundreds of vanes.

  11. As an engineer, I look at photos like this and see old calculations and then I look at our client expectations for budgets these days and I question why our clients are always complaining about project budgets/schedules when we complete jobs 5-10x faster and bill them 20-50x fewer hours because we have significantly less staff than we would have had back in the 80s.

    Then you look at Law firms and despite the huge efficiencies in being able to digitally search data bases and electronically file, they’re still billing at the same amount and still charging comparable numbers of hours to what they would have charged back in the day.

    Engineers in our society are undervalued and underpaid and the cut throat nature of the industry just feeds into the crazy client expectations of cost.

    It’s really not a shock when you look around at cities like Chicago and see the crumbling infrastructure like the CTA lines that are all rusted over and read reports about 75% of bridges being in critical condition in need of repair and see all the potholes in the roads etc. when you realize how money is being held out of engineers hands and instead diverted to administrative and law costs. We need to cut the red tape and start re-investing in our infrastructure.

  12. My dad loved hand drafting! He retold many memories, like a lot of the comments here, of drafting in school and honing his craft and taking it with him in his work! He was very proud of every project. I miss you dad! And I loved reading these comments, felt like dads voice again!

  13. My grandpop told me a story about how one of his friends who worked for DuPont (senior level drafter of some sort) was sent off to attend training on a new computerized “CAD” software which had just hit the market.

    Dude went to the training seminar, came back to work – and tendered his resignation. He opted to retire instead of learning the CAD software haha

  14. Ah yes AutoCAD.
    The best software with the literal worst number of licencing errors know to man.

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