Fastway CAD-CAE Timeline

History of CAD/CAE Companies: An Interactive Timeline

The Computer Aided Design/Engineering (CAD/CAE) industry is estimated to be over $10B dollars, and include over 5 Million users. Like other industries, it has seen incredible growth recently coming from ease of access and even easier to swallow pay-as-you-go subscription pricing.

Mergers and Acquisitions

And in addition to this growth, the CAD/CAE industry has seen quite a bit of consolidation recently - particularly with the large acquisitions ofCD-Adapco and Mentor Graphics by Siemens, Xflow by Dassault Systemes, and MSC Corporation and Hexagon.

So, this got us wondering... What does the entire industry look like?

Interactive Data Viz

In order to try to wrap our head around the big picture, we decided to create an Interactive Timeline of the History of the CAD/CAE Industry focusing on the Merger and Acquisition activity. To do this, we used the popular data visualization software, Tableau. It is a really cool app which connects to a database (like Excel spreadsheet), and allows you to slice your data in a multitude of visually appealing ways. Scroll below, and use your mouse to hover over the nodes and learn more about each milestone in the amazingly dynamic industry of CAD/CAE.


Finally, I must give ultimate credit to all of the sources of this information, given at the bottom of this article, especially to David E. Weisberg who wrote an incredibly detailed book on the CAD industry called The Engineering Design Revolution. In addition, a huge thank you to Sebastian Fixson from Babson College who facilitated this project as well as Olivier Catherin of Actinvision who offered some much needed guidance with the data prep.

Sources:, Grabcad, Cadalyst,, Tenlinks, Cadazz, Google Groups: Autocad, Thomas Net, Google Groups: Solidworks, Solidworks Blog, Autodesk blog, Technology Evaluation, CAD Dealer, MB Design, Ohio State University, Key Solutions, Todd Spraker, Kubotek Press Release, Bloomberg, ESRD, NEi, Nafems, Ansys, Dennis Nagy, Altair, ESI Group, Multimechanics, CD-Adapco, CFD Online, Stanford University, Abbes Azzi, Symscape, CGNS, Bentley Wiki, Altair History

And of course, the crowd-sourced pages of Wikipedia for the following search terms: Adina, Altair Engineering, Applicon, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Cadam, Cadkey, CD-Adapco, Computervision, Comsol, Datacad, EDS, ESI Group, EXA Corp, FEMAP, Intergraph, MEDUSA, Moldflow, MSC Corp, NEi, Prime Computers, PTC, Siemens PLM, Solid Edge, UGS Corp, Vectorworks.

This map is a permanent work in process as the industry continues to grow (through startups and new technologies) and consolidate (through mergers and acquisitions). Therefore, if you see any inaccuracies, or want to notify us of an update, please drop us a line through the button below.

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Another version of this CAD/CAE Timeline which focuses on the evolution of the underlying technology can be found here: As this story continues to evolve, these graphics will be kept up-to-date. To get notified when the next update occurs, sign up for our newsletter below.

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