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"I've got this beautiful panoramic three-dimensional painting of Mars based on Martian photos. It's 30 feet wide. You can pick out every pebble on the Martian landscape. And who'd have dreamed you could do that?"
- Arthur C. Clarke

Drafting Dan  
  The first computer software drafting program (Computer Aided Design - CAD).  

This is the first mention of a computer software drafting program, like AutoCAD and the many other drafting packages available today.

I knew that they were using powered semi-automatic drafting machines now... You could put straight lines or curves anywhere on an easel just by punching keys.
From The Door Into Summer, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1956
Additional resources -

This novel was published in 1956, which I believe was before the use of computers in drafting. In the mid-1950's the US Air Force developed SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) for air defense; it provided one key component; a cathode ray tube to show computer-processed information (in this case, radar and other data). The first true CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems emerged in the 1960's; the first was The Electronic Drafting Machine, which used PDP-1 computer from DEC (Digital Equipment Corp., a vector-refresh display and a disk memory device used to refresh the graphic display. An electronic light pen was used to input commands.

I spent some time working with PDGS (Product Design Graphics System), Ford Motor Company's home-grown CAD program. PDGS started with a few FORTRAN programs to calculate specific parameters for subsystems (like suspension designs); by the 1990's it had grown to a full-fledged system with (reputedly) 10,000 sub-menus full of features. (Special thanks to Bill Mullins for pointing this one out.)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Door Into Summer
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to The Door Into Summer
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

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