Friday Flashback #207

‘Theocracy of Hackers’ Rules Autodesk Inc., A Strangely Run Firm
Can the Latest CEO Survive A Cabal of Programmers Who Send ‘Flame Mail’?

May 28, 1992
Just as Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software supplier, is an extension of the personality of William Gates III, Autodesk is largely a creature of Mr. Walker. Like Mr. Gates, Mr. Walker is superb at identifying computer trends and spreading his vision to the troops. But unlike Mr. Gates, Mr. Walker, 42, never really wanted to run his company. “I’m an engineer, I’m a programmer, I’m a technologist,” he says. “I have no interest in running a large U.S. public company, and I never have. It was a means to an end to accomplish the technological work I wished to achieve.”

He relinquished the top spot in 1986 to Alvar Green, formerly Autodesk’s chief financial officer, to return to programming. But the real power still rested with Mr. Walker, Autodesk’s biggest shareholder, and an elite group of programmers called “Core,” who had either helped Mr. Walker found the company in 1982 or led its most important projects.

Core members are contentious, eccentric free-thinkers who have had a way of devouring professional managers. They have often attacked each other and company executives, usually by sending “flame mail” — biting electronic letters. The outbursts sometimes have led to changes, and sometimes brought work to a halt. “The whole company is a theocracy of hackers,” says Charles M. Foundyller, president of Daratech Inc., a market research firm in Cambridge, Mass.

— from a 1992 article in the Wall Street Journal

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Re-downloading Autodesk software

Here’s a quick tip if you need to re-download the original release version (for example, Mudbox 2013) instead of a service pack: use the Autodesk Virtual Agent.

  1. Go to
  2. Click ASK to use the virtual agent.
  3. Click Downloading and Installation
  4. Click Software Download links
  5. Click I need to redownload my product

Subscription customers can always download the release versions from the Sub center, but on the public site, only service packs and upgrades are available. For a product like Softimage, that isn’t usually a problem: you can just download the latest service pack. But that isn’t true for every product (for example, sometimes a SP is a patch that requires the original release version).

Wednesday Word Cloud: Advanced Support

Word cloud for the Customer Guide to Autodesk Advanced Support.


On this subject, now that the AREA forums have been updated, I suspect Maya/3dsMax/Softimage customers are one step closer to forum support. From the Advanced Customer Guide:

Proactively Escalate Forum Posts to Autodesk
Autodesk Advanced Support provides you with all the benefits of Basic Support, including expedited community forum support: if the community does not respond to your posts within 24 hours, they are automatically escalated to Autodesk.

Softimage 2013 EULA is eighty thousand characters

That’s 80,000 characters, not including spaces. Here’s a graph of the EULA size over the Softimage releases.

Inspired by The Wengerd Report: AutoCAD 2012’s EULA is now 60,000+ characters. Be sure to read them all

It looks like the M&E EULAs were one release behind the AutoCAD EULA. The big size increase didn’t happen until the 2013 release.

I didn’t see a big change in SHOUTING in the EULA. The 2013 EULA had 7404 upper-case characters, and the 2012 had 7889.