JANA / America West Airlines CAD Illustrator

CAD was just starting to become mainstream in the late 1980s replacing the drafting board, T-square and triangle. Learning one method in college then transitioning to another in the workplace was both fascinating and crushing. While computer systems at the time were cumbersome, creating a digital archive of a sketch, diagram or drawing infused versatility never before imagined. Added to the designers tool set were prodigious new means of replication, revision, reproduction and redesign.

JANA was formed in San Antonio as a spinoff of Datapoint during the early years when computer systems began the transition from business machines to personal devices. A launch project for the new company was the digitization of design and manufacturing drawings, specifically wiring diagrams, for the relatively new and expanding America West Airlines. The airline icon would survive 25 years before acquiring and rebranding as US Airlines in 2007, then later merging with world’s largest, American Airlines, in 2013.

AutoCAD was the de facto standard digital drafting tool in the 1980s and it resembled closely the command line user interface of its operating system DOS. In time, an operator learned to think in its draw-line-X-comma-Y language as inputs often required the keyboard. Results were relatively swift, not unlike the drafting board, yet accurate to the decimal point. So it was for many months that I was entrenched in this process of digitizing wiring diagrams, rote in essence, and content in consummation. The tedium would, nevertheless, precipitate a career in CAD on a variety of platforms in architecture, engineering, aviation and manufacturing.