Next Up Previous Contents Index
Next: Basic Development Strategy Up: The Autodesk File Previous: Ten Years After

Before Autodesk


Because Autodesk has been successful, there's a tendency to forget what a high-risk undertaking it was to start the company. Most of the founders of Autodesk were involved in preexisting ventures of their own, some while also holding down full-time jobs. Embarking on Autodesk meant abandoning these ventures, some of which looked quite promising at the time, for a new business in an untested market.

Starting Autodesk wasn't the only opportunity that beckoned at the time. I wrote this paper in late 1981 to plot the strategy of Marinchip and the people around it, who encompassed a large percentage of the Autodesk founders. This strategy represented the ``safe evolutionary path'' for Marinchip and would, had it been pursued, have led to utter failure.

It's worth keeping this in mind when evaluating new business opportunities that seem to diverge from Autodesk's traditional areas of success. Special thanks are in order to David Ciari, who typed in this entire document from the only existing paper copy.

Product Development Strategy Working Paper

Revision 0---September 29, 1981
by John Walker

This paper describes the background, plans, and goals for Marinchip Systems' hardware and software development projects. This paper is being prepared as a working document for Marinchip (MS), Evolution Computing (EC), Optimistic Systems (OS), and Pacific Software Associates (PSA), to identify how the plans will impact work in progress by each group, how work will be distributed among the organisations, and how the work must come together before goals can be met.

This is a working document. Nothing in here is final, decided, or immutable. It exists only to serve as a starting point for discussion and as a base for the development of a formal plan.

Editor: John Walker