It was also in 1982 when John Walker and a dozen or so of his colleagues pooled their resources to launch Autodesk and its flagship product AutoCAD.
Unbeknownst to the editors at Time, and nearly everyone else, silicon and Moore’s Law would usher in a new age of digital design and, more importantly, a renaissance of human imagination.
And it was all based on an odd little gizmo yet unsold on a skeptical public.
What the public then grappled with, people like Walker and fellow programmer Michael Riddle understood: The computer could be a visualization tool for designers. AutoCAD was the culmination of Riddle’s early work -- which, at the time, was still awaiting the hardware to achieve its commercial potential.
Autodesk started on the idea of building better tools for designers. From there, it took off. The company not only created the tools, but also an ethos of design in service of building a better world. Such statements are often dismissed as marketing-speak. Who doesn't want to "make a better world," after all?
But Autodesk has walked the talk for more than three decades, opening avenues of possibility for designers and engineers to "create a future where we all live well and within the limits of our planet."
Who could have imagined all this back in 1982?
Autodesk embodies these core principles. It's the kind of company that stays on TriplePundit's radar.
We sat down with Lynelle Cameron, VP of sustainability for Autodesk and CEO of the Autodesk Foundation, for an hour-long discussion about how designers and techies can continue to craft the economy of tomorrow.
Many readers may already be familiar with Cameron's leadership, but it's worthy of review. Her experience in business and environmental stewardship comes, one might say, from the ground up.
She got her feet wet by leading expeditions for NOLS, the global nonprofit wilderness training school. As program director of the Mountain Institute, she worked in some of the planet’s most remote mountain communities.
Cameron then took her talents and experience to the corporate world, developing sustainability programs for Hewlett Packard and her years of leadership with Autodesk and now the Autodesk Foundation.
In her spare time, she sits on several boards, including the Center for Environmental Health and the Biomimicry Institute.
Our conversation ranged from the election of U.S. President Donald Trump to the brokenness of our relationship with nature, and how the human imagination can still mend it.
No solution is not first imagined. Within the context of a growing urban population, Cameron articulated the role Autodesk can play in imagining a better-designed world, especially through her leadership of the Autodesk Foundation, and how other stakeholders can do their part.
Since our talk, Trump has made good on his promise to go after Obama-era environmental policy and initiatives. His series of troubling, hastily thought-out executive orders threaten decades of bipartisan support for fundamental U.S. environmental policy.
Trump's "keep-everybody-off-balance" leadership style is jarring, even for the industries Trump purports to champion. There is an inevitable sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. One hundred-plus days in, there is little sign that will change.
But like it or not, Trump is learning (perhaps) that just because he says it is so, does not make it so.
In any case, "it absolutely hasn’t changed our strategy at all,” Cameron told 3p of Autodesk.
For Cameron and her colleagues, the mixed messages and antagonistic tone from Washington only reinforce their obligation to take a stand. Whether climate or immigration,"It has shone a spotlight on the urgency for the private sector to voice our opinion on the role of government."
"There is a groundswell among U.S. companies to not be quiet."
Decades of struggling to define our "common yet differentiated responsibilities" among nations in a world divided have led to the Paris climate agreement and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Plainly aspirational at their core, these global directives arguably represent the best chance we have for an appropriate international response.
“Two-thirds of our customers are from outside the U.S.," Cameron told us. And where governments fall short, she emphasizes the responsibility of the global private sector to take up the slack.
"We have got to engage our customers to help solve this climate challenge," she insisted, "because they're uniquely suited to [do so] and are making some of the most important decisions, regardless of what happens in the government and other sectors."
"What we try to do is lead by example, and I think others will follow suit."
"Same thing with putting climate in your 10-K [an annual financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission], powering your business with renewable energy, or setting an internal price on carbon."
"I think our customers see the connection between energy and cost savings," Cameron said. "They understand that if you want to be in business for the long-term, climate change is something you need to consider."
It is a common and treacherous path we are on. Industrialized or emerging, rich or poor, we all in a sense inhabit a developing world.
That's a fancy way of saying that modeling, simulation, and visualization leads to better designs and better outcomes.That may not be exactly what Raskin had in mind, but It for Autodesk, it remains the driving principle.
Using the process of "generative design," the partition is just a first step in what Airbus calls its "vision of the plane of 2050."
"[Generative design] leverages the best of the technology and computer with people focusing on what they do best."
From its inception way back in 1982, the brilliance of Autodesk’s evolution as a company is allowing people like Cameron, and so many others, to flourish. The company's ability to influence and support sustainable design across the globe makes it what the authors of "Influencer" call a "positive deviant." Where others see problems, Cameron and her colleagues see solutions.
She sums it up best: "Thank God I am working at this company right now. I can't think of a better place with which to effect the change that needs to happen."
It is this drive and unflagging optimism that enable their customers and partners to flourish. Indeed, Camerons recognizes partnership and connection as key Autodesk's success.
Large or small, startup or Fortune 500, rural village or metropolis, connecting people, shaping ideas, and harnessing the best of the human imagination is, as Cameron put it, Autodesk's "secret sauce."
"People have agency," Cameron insisted. "I think we are collectively more ready to make that shift."
In a human-designed world, what we imagine is what becomes real.