38°00′20″N 122°31′51″W / 38.0055°N 122.5308°W / 38.0055; -122.5308

Autodesk, Inc.
Company typePublic
  • Software
  • media & entertainment
  • manufacturing & industrial
  • bioscience
FoundedJanuary 30, 1982; 42 years ago (1982-01-30), in Mill Valley, California, U.S.
FoundersJohn Walker, Dan Drake
HeadquartersOne Market Plaza, San Francisco, California, U.S.
Key people
ProductsSee § Products
Revenue Increase US$5.01 billion (2023)
Increase US$989 million (2023)
Increase US$823 million (2023)
Total assetsIncrease US$9.44 billion (2023)
Total equityIncrease US$1.15 billion (2023)
Number of employees
c. 13,700 (January 2023)
Footnotes / references
Financials as of January 31, 2023[1]

Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational software corporation that makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries. Autodesk is headquartered in San Francisco, California,[2] and has offices worldwide. Its U.S. offices are located in the states of California, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Michigan, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Its Canada offices are located in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta.

The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, who was a coauthor of the first versions of AutoCAD. AutoCAD is the company's flagship computer-aided design (CAD) software and, along with its 3D design software Revit, is primarily used by architects, engineers, and structural designers to design, draft, and model buildings and other structures. Autodesk software has been used in many fields, and on projects from the One World Trade Center[3] to Tesla electric cars.[4]

Autodesk became best known for AutoCAD, but now develops a broad range of software for design, engineering, and entertainment—and a line of software for consumers. The manufacturing industry uses Autodesk's digital prototyping software—including Autodesk Inventor, Fusion 360, and the Autodesk Product Design Suite—to visualize, simulate, and analyze real-world performance using a digital model in the design process.[5] The company's Revit line of software for building information modeling is designed to let users explore the planning, construction, and management of a building virtually before it is built.[6]

Autodesk's Media and Entertainment division creates software for visual effects, color grading, and editing as well as animation, game development, and design visualization.[7] 3ds Max and Maya are both 3D animation software used in film visual effects and game development.


The company was founded by John Walker and a team of programmers in 1982.[8] Walker founded the company after acquiring Interact, a computer-aided design program that operated on microcomputers running the 8-bit CP/M operating system and two of the new 16-bit systems, the Victor 9000 and the IBM Personal Computer (PC). This tool provided made it affordable for smaller design, engineering, and architecture companies to create detailed technical drawings. The program had been developed by Michael Riddle in 1979. Riddle had struggled to sell the program, and agreed to sell it to Walker in exchange for royalties. The program was further developed and renamed AutoCAD.[9][10]

Autodesk became a public company in 1985. John Walker did not enjoy the process of writing the prospectus, relating the process to "lying on the beach or juggling chainsaws".[11]

Release 2.1 of AutoCAD, released in 1986, included AutoLISP, a built-in Lisp programming language interpreter initially based on XLISP.[12] This opened the door for third party developers to extend AutoCAD's functionality, to address a wide range of vertical markets, strengthening AutoCAD's market penetration.

Subsequent to AutoCAD Release 13, the company stopped supporting the Unix environment and the Apple Macintosh platform. After AutoCAD Release 14 (R13 was last DOS & Unix release), first shipped in 1997, Autodesk discontinued development under DOS, and focused exclusively on Microsoft Windows.

AutoCAD has grown to become the most widely used CAD program for 2D non-specialized applications.[13] The native file formats written by AutoCAD, DXF and DWG, are also widely used for CAD data interoperability.

In 1989, Autodesk's sales grew to over $100,000,000 after just four operational years.[9]

Walker remained a programmer at Autodesk until 1994, when he left due to disagreements with changes at the company.[8] With the purchase of Softdesk in 1997, Autodesk started to develop specialty versions of AutoCAD, targeted to broad industry segments, including architecture, civil engineering, and manufacturing. Since the late 1990s, the company has added several significant non-AutoCAD-based products, including Revit, a parametric building modeling application (acquired in 2002, from Massachusetts-based Revit Technologies for $133 million), and Inventor, an internally developed parametric mechanical design CAD application.

In 2007, Timothy Vernor sued Autodesk (Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc.), alleging that he was entitled to resell "used" copies of AutoCAD software on eBay. He had obtained the software from an Autodesk licensee at an office liquidation sale.[14] A federal district judge in Washington denied Autodesk's initial motion to dismiss in early 2008. In February and March 2009, both sides filed motions for summary judgment addressing the issue whether the First Sale Doctrine applies to previously licensed software.[15] The Court ruled in Vernor's favor, holding that when the transfer of software to the purchaser materially resembled a sale (non-recurring price, right to perpetual possession of copy) it was, in fact, a "sale with restrictions on use"[16] giving rise to a right to resell the copy under the first-sale doctrine. As such, Autodesk could not pursue an action for copyright infringement against Vernor, who sought to resell used versions of its software on eBay. Autodesk appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which reversed the lower court ruling, denying Vernor the right to resale Autodesk software due to Autodesk's nontransferable licensing restrictions.[17] In October 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.[18]

Autodesk introduced a new logo at the TED conference in Long Beach, California, on February 26, 2013.[19][20][21]

Autodesk announced the largest lay off in its history on November 27, 2017, with the lay off of 1,150 jobs. This was in addition to the almost 1,000 job cuts announced in January 2016. The number of Autodesk employees decreased from approximately 9,200 to 7,200 in less than 2 years.[22]

Autodesk updated to its current logo in September 2021.[23]

In 2022, Autodesk moved their headquarters to San Francisco from San Rafael, California — which served as their headquarters since 1994.[2][24]

Corporate acquisitions



A screenshot of AutoCAD (2006), Autodesk's flagship product.

Platform Solutions and Emerging Business (PSEB) division develops and manages the product foundation for most Autodesk offerings across multiple markets, including Autodesk's flagship product AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, AutoCAD for Mac, and AutoCAD mobile app (formerly AutoCAD 360). Autodesk Suites, Subscription and Web Services, which include Autodesk Cloud, Autodesk Labs, and Global Engineering are also part of PSEB. In what was seen as an unusual step for a maker of high-end business software, Autodesk began offering AutoCAD LT 2012 for Mac through the Apple Mac App Store.[84] Also part of PSEB is the Autodesk Consumer Product Group, which was created in November 2010 to generate interest in 3-D design and “foster a new wave of designers who hunger for sophisticated software”.[85] Users range from children, students and artists to makers and DIYers.[86]

Training and certification

Autodesk offers certificates in two categories: Autodesk Certified User and Advanced Certified Professional.

Architecture, engineering and construction

The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry group is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, in a LEED Platinum building[87] designed and built using Autodesk software.[88] Autodesk's architecture, engineering, and construction solutions include AutoCAD, and Revit, which is their flagship product for relational Building information modeling. The AEC division also develops and manages software for the Construction industry, including Autodesk Construction Cloud, Advance Steel, and the Navisworks (formerly JetStream) product tools; the Infrastructure industry, including Civil 3D, and InfraWorks; and the MEP industry, including Fabrication CADmep. The Autodesk Services Marketplace offering helps its clients train their team in AEC Industry.[89] Projects that have used software from the Autodesk AEC division include the NASA Ames building,[90] the San Francisco Bay Bridge,[91] the Shanghai Tower, and New York's One World Trade Center.[92]

Genetic engineering

Autodesk Life Sciences is an extensible toolkit for genetic engineering. It visualises DNA code (Molecule Viewer), and has a tool for writing DNA code (genetic constructor). The tool allows work on molecule-level, rather than nucleobase-level (A, C, G, T) constructs.

In 2018, all projects were suspended.[93]


Autodesk headquarters

Autodesk's manufacturing industry group is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. The company's manufacturing software is used in various manufacturing segments, including industrial machinery, electro-mechanical, tool and die, industrial equipment, automotive components, and consumer products. The principal products are Fusion 360, and its family (Fusion 360 with FeatureCAM,[94] PowerMill,[95] PowerShape,[95] PowerInspect,[95] or Netfabb[96]), Autodesk Alias, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Vault, Autodesk CFD (formerly Autodesk Simulation CFD), Moldflow, VRED, and the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection, which includes Inventor Nastran (formerly Nastran In-CAD), Inventor CAM (formerly Autodesk HSM and Inventor HSM), Inventor Nesting, Inventor Tolerance Analysis, and Factory Design Utilities.

Media and entertainment

Autodesk Media and Entertainment products are designed for digital media creation, management, and delivery, from film and television visual effects, color grading, and editing to animation, game development, and design visualization. Autodesk's Media and Entertainment Division is based in Montreal, Quebec. It was established in 1999 after Autodesk, Inc. acquired Discreet Logic, Inc. and merged its operations with Kinetix. In January 2006, Autodesk acquired Alias, a developer of 3D graphics technology. In October 2008, Autodesk acquired the Softimage brand from Avid.[97] The principal product offerings from the Media and Entertainment Division are Flame, and the Media & Entertainment Collection, which include Maya, 3ds Max, Arnold, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, and ReCap Pro.

Much of Avatar's visual effects were created with Autodesk media and entertainment software. Autodesk software enabled Avatar director James Cameron to aim a camera at actors wearing motion-capture suits in a studio and see them as characters in the fictional world of Pandora in the film.[98] Autodesk software also played a role in the visual effects of Alice in Wonderland, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, Inception, Iron Man 2, King Kong, Gladiator, Titanic, and other films.[99] Walt Disney Animation Studios also utilizes Autodesk Maya for character rigging and animation, being used in films such as Frozen II.[100]


See also: List of 3D rendering software

Autodesk develops and purchased many specific-purpose renderers but many Autodesk products had been bundled with third-party renderers such as NVIDIA Mental Ray or Iray.

Cloud rendering services

Visualization tools

Discontinued products

Some of Autodesk's "retired" products are listed here:

Maintenance-mode products

Non-maintained products

Formerly owned and have since been divested


Autodesk CFD (formerly Autodesk Simulation CFD) includes modeling and thermal modeling tools for architectural and MEP applications. Common applications for environmental sustainable design include mechanical ventilation, external flow (wind loading), natural ventilation, and occupant comfort. Other energy applications include analysis for building energy, solar load, advanced energy and heating and cooling.[212][213] Autodesk introduced C-FACT, an open-source, science-driven approach to setting greenhouse gas reduction targets, which calls for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions to be made in proportion to a company's gross domestic product (GDP). Unlike other carbon accounting methods, Autodesk's C-FACT measures carbon dioxide emissions that are proportional to a company's global GDP contribution.[214] Autodesk will derive its own targets using this approach through 2020.

In 2006, Autodesk sponsored a PBS program named e² Design,[215] which focused on green building design around the world, describing the leaders and technologies that drive sustainable design.

See also


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