Through the Looking Glass     Golden Hammer

AutoCAD Expo Moscow

Autodesk was actively doing business in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union long before it was fashionable to do so. The opening of AutoCAD Expo Moscow on October 17, 1988 marked a major milestone in developing the market for AutoCAD there. It was the first software-oriented trade show ever organised in the Soviet Union by a western firm. Richard Handyside, who led the effort to open the then “Eastern Bloc” for Autodesk wrote this summary as soon as he arrived back in London.

Date: Mon Oct 24 13:40:16 1988
From: Richard Handyside — Managing Director Autodesk UK
To: Autodesk employees worldwide

This is just a quick preliminary report on AutoCAD Expo Moscow, which we got back from on Saturday night.

The Expo was a tremendous success from every point of view—for Autodesk, for the 19 developers and dealers exhibiting with us, and for the 8000+ visitors who attended what was the first-ever international software exhibition in the Soviet Union.

Response to the Russian-language version of AutoCAD Release 10, which we launched at the show, was overwhelming. It was physically impossible to get through the crowd around the machine it was being demonstrated on for most of the show.

Interest in AutoSolid was equally overwhelming—literally, physically so most of the time: one needs to evolve a whole devious technique for bringing out a new box of literature if one doesn't want to get crushed in the mob at one of these shows. Our Mr Solid, Bill Barnes, talked himself hoarse, and had to resort to French when English didn't work. At the end of the show, we announced that we would be donating the first copy of AutoSolid in the USSR and the first copy of the Russian AutoCAD Release 10 to AZLK, the Moskvich car factory who are licenced AutoCAD and AutoShade users and who gave us tremendous help in organising the Expo in their conference centre.

Response to the seminar program was enthusiastic—so much so that the crowd trying to get in to hear the opening Autodesk seminar on the first morning smashed the auditorium door off its hinges! And it was exciting to walk through the exhibition and overhear Russian visitors saying to each other what a great show it was. Among the more interesting visitors was Vitaly Sevastanyov, a Soviet astronaut who has been up in space 3 times and is an academician of the World Academy of Astronautics.[Footnote] His presence wasn't mere PR, either: he came to the Expo and attended seminars 3 days in a row.

The exhibition was a success in terms of immediate business. We, Autodesk, signed contracts there for over £75,000 (US$128,000): we sold 30 copies of AutoCAD, 2 copies of AutoSolid, and 3 copies of AutoShade. Including one exceptional hardware+software contract for £1.2 million, the total value of contracts signed during the show came to nearly £2.2 million (US$3.75M). And at least as many contracts again did not get concluded during the show but will follow shortly.

These are just the immediate results. The Expo will without question mark a decisive turning-point in our activities in Eastern Europe in general. We signed up 3 very important new dealers, among them a Soviet-American joint venture company called Dialog, who are also going to be licenced distributors for Microsoft, Ashton-Tate and Lotus. The Union of Architects, covering all architects in the USSR, has decided to standardise on AutoCAD: they will shortly be setting up an AutoCAD Authorised Training Centre, and also plan to sell complete AutoCAD systems. The East German Bauakademie (Construction Academy) will be signed up, once they have completed their internal approvals, as an ATC, support centre and applications developer: this academy has 4000 engineers on staff and is responsible for all construction in East Germany.

A tremendous high for everyone involved: now we have to settle down to the huge amount of follow-up work that is needed. Visitors, exhibitors and the AZLK car factory all asked when we would hold the next Moscow Expo. The answer is October 1989, by which time we confidently anticipate that there will be thousands of legal, licenced copies of AutoCAD and AutoSolid in productive use in the USSR—and a whole flowering of exciting new applications programs.

Susan Sheridan[Footnote] came over with us, and with her vigorous arm-waving Polish was a tremendous help to the 5 of us from the Autodesk London office: she'll no doubt have her own stories to tell. One of the exhibitors recorded a lot of the Expo on video, and we'll send over a copy of that for Susan to show asap.

Another great first for Autodesk.


Through the Looking Glass     Golden Hammer