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The Digitizer

by: Paul Li

What Happened To The Digitizer? T


oday, the answer to this question is very different when asking a Graphic Artist vs an AutoCAD Technician. The former will most likely respond with something like: “I cannot live without drawing on my digitizer tablet!” The latter, on the other hand, may respond: “What’s a digitizer?”


For the remainder of the article, I’ll be speaking from the point of view of the AutoCAD Technician since that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 33 years before retirement. I would like to point out the various factors that most likely contributed to the once highly in demand digitizer in our profession to now fade into oblivion.


In the late eighties when AutoCAD was still in its infancy with Release 9 (this was when Autodesk still named AutoCAD with a release number), there 32

were no icons on the screen to select commands. Yes, shocking, I know. But that was when AutoCAD ran on Microsoft’s DOS Operating System (OS). To enter commands, first and foremost there was the forever popular “Command Line” used for direct keyboard entry permanently fixed to the bottom of the screen. Then the faithful “Screen Menu” on the right to select additional text commands. Last but not least, if you had one of those elite graphics cards, you would have access to the hidden “Pull Down” menus which would slowly materialize as you hover over the top of the screen. But everything was text based. There were no icons associated with the command selection. The only option to select icons was to use a “Digitizer Tablet.” Back in those days, a typical digitizer tablet measured 12” x 12” square and tilted up on one end (not flat like they are today) with the high end measuring at least 3” tall. The most popular digitizer brands were Calcomp, Kurta and Summasketch. Then, Autodesk still shipped (pre-internet days) the AutoCAD program in a package containing disks, manuals and included was a foldout plastic template to

AUGIWorld Magazine | October 2021

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