Resilient. Lazear debuts Versa CAD for OS X. (Photo by Tom Sawyer for ENR)

The developers of some early CAD software for Macintosh, DOS and UNIX machines are proving, once again, that you can’t keep good ideas down. Their products have been sold, shuffled, reconstituted and reacquired a few times since 1987. Now, they are back in the market with a new CAD program for Mac OS X.

VersaCAD 2005 is scheduled to start shipping Feb. 15. It is marketed by Archway Systems Inc., a company founded in 1989 by Tom and Mike Lazear when they reacquired VersaCAD. They had originally developed the product, but sold it two years before.

VersaCAD has continued to carry a Windows and Mac customer base of about 20,000 seats through it all, says Tom Lazear, CEO of the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based firm. The new product, however, is "closer to a rewrite" with some major re-engineering. "It’s really UNIX with a smiley face on it," he says. But it is also backward compatible to the very earliest Apple operating systems, he adds.

The software package includes VersaCAD that "will run on any Macintosh ever built," Lazear says, but includes the new release designed to run on OS 10.3 or higher. Price, versatility and ease of use are big selling points, he claims. The software sells for $629 for a single seat, with the usual breaks for site licenses. It uses Mac-style menus and tool bars and graphical interface and has sets of standard symbol libraries for setting up architectural, mechanical, electrical, mapping and plant design projects. It has a translator for importing CAD files from other products, including AutoCAD.