JANA / America West Airlines CAD Illustration

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

JANA was formed in San Antonio as an offshoot of Datapoint during the early years when personal computer systems began their integration into businesses. A launch project for the new company was digitization of design and manufacturing drawings, specifically wiring diagrams, for the relatively new and expanding America West Airlines. The airline would survive 25 years before acquiring and rebranding as US Airlines in 2007, then later merging with worlds 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, the operator began to think in its draw-line-X-comma-Y language. The results were relatively swift like 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.

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