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June 24, 2015

A brief history of AU

It’s official—we’re in the thick it. With just over 150 days left till AU 2015 Las Vegas we’re firing on all cylinders and getting ready to blow the top off this thing for you. Did you know AU has been around for 23 years? (Yep, we’re Gen Y.) While some of you have been with us for years, we thought it might be fun for those of you who are new to AU to take a look back at how it all began and how we got here.

Autodesk, Inc. introduced AutoCAD software to the market in 1982, leading the technological revolution from manual drawing to the computer-aided variety. In 1993, the first Autodesk user conference that became AU was hosted near our headquarters in San Francisco. It was a chance for designers, architects, and engineers to get together and geek out, teach each other practical tricks and tips, compare notes from the field, and rub elbows with peers. Above all, it was a chance to learn from the best in the industry. Autodesk University was born.

It was a big hit, so we decided to make AU an annual event. As we added new products for industries like media & entertainment and construction, our audience expanded too. We began inviting industry leaders to speak, and AU became more than just a place to learn about software. It became the showcase for thought-leadership and forward thinking that you know today.

After bouncing around the country for a few years, we settled in Las Vegas in 2000. In 2008 we added international events to our roster, packing our bags and heading for Shanghai, China, followed by Tokyo, Japan. Last year we reached 23,000 participants globally, at 13 events. We have 13 events lined up again this year, and kicked off the first one in Johannesburg last week. Almost 500 designers and creators came together to discuss the Future of Making Things with a focus on Africa’s unique challenges. Next up is AU India in Mumbai on August 7, which will be the first international AU to host the AU Gallery.

AU online began as a place to get information about the conference. But as AU evolved and expanded, we started thinking about how we could help people learn year-round. We began making classes available online in 2004. Each year our archive of incredible learning content grows. Now anyone can access classes and inspirational talks from experts and industry leaders anytime, anywhere. At AU online, class is always open and always free.

And that takes us up to the present day. We’re all in overdrive working to make 2015 the best AU yet. See you in Vegas.