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May 9, 1988

AUTODESK’S INVESTMENT IN XANADU

By CBR Staff Writer

What exactly is Autodesk Inc looking for from its investment for an 80% stake in Xanadu Operating Co? The idea of the Xanadu Hypertext system is to store and interconnect the items in large databases that include both text and graphics, without the need to take into account the data structure, and the immediate aim of the Palo Alto, California company is to complete development of a back end hypertext system akin to a database engine, and Autodesk, Sausalito, reckons it could prove the ideal tool for managing large databases of the engineering drawings created by its AutoCAD desk-top design software; the key problem in creating complex structures – such as aircraft or submarines – is to avoid constantly reinventing the wheel, expensively designing a new component when an existing one you’ve forgotten about could easily be adapted; Boeing Co has seen off all rivals in the commercial airplane business bar Airbus Industrie in part by maximising the number of parts that are common to – for example the fuselage sections of the 707, 727 and 737 – and if hypertext could bring that kind of efficiency to other manufacturers with hundreds of thousands of components to manipulate, it would be making a major contribution.

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