At DEVELOP3D LIVE in March Dr Jonathan Ingram gave a fascinating talk on his work in the development of early CAD systems which were the forerunners to the BIM systems of today

At this year’s excellent BIM Show Live event in Newcastle, AEC Magazine bumped into someone we hadn’t seen for about 20 years – Dr Jonathan Ingram, the creator of the first BIM tools (Sonata and Reflex (and Pro Reflex), had come to his first BIM event in roughly the same length of time.

AEC Magazine has a sister publication, DEVELOP3D, which runs a conference and exhibition for the very latest in product design, engineering and manufacturing technology.
Many AEC Magazine readers attend DEVELOP3D Live, as it covers the cutting edge of design visualisation, VR/AR and digital fabrication. It offers the AEC industry a chance to learn from the manufacturing sector, which has historically been more advanced and faster to adopt new technology.
At DEVELOP3D Live 2017 in March, there were 43 presentations, which can all be viewed online here.
DEVELOP3D Live 2018 will be held in Warwick on 20 March next year. Meanwhile, to see the latest developments in AEC technology, attend NXT BLD on 28 June.

Dr Ingram is writing a book on modelling development and usage from the early 3D systems and gave a fascinating talk on the evolution and application of intelligent 3D systems for the built environment in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s.

We were so taken by this talk that we asked him to speak at DEVELOP3D LIVE, a conference organised by our sister publication He agreed and now his presentation is available to view online here.

Intelligent AEC modelling really started with BDS – the Building Design System. While this was a 2D system, it featured multi-representational objects, where each ‘object’ would display a different graphic if it were in plan, section or elevation.

From this experience in the early 80s, Dr Ingram set about to create a true 3D modelling environment, which culminated in T squared’s Sonata application which ran on Apollo workstations and is now recognised as being the first true BIM system. Despite the incredible cost of both hardware and software (over £100,000), many global practices took on seats and it really started to change the way large practices thought about modelling and Computer Aided Design. Sonata was eventually sold to Alias.

Dr Ingram’s next application was called Reflex and took the concepts defined in Sonata and delivered them on the then new range of Silicon Graphics IRIX Workstations, the Pro Reflex running on desktop PCs. Eventually this was sold to mechanical CAD specialist PTC, which failed to enter the AEC market. Two of PTC’s programmers, Leonid Raiz and Dr. Irwin Jungreis left the company and took with them a development licence of Pro Reflex. Pro Reflex plus others eventually inspired them to developed Revit, which was eventually sold to Autodesk. Global domination ensued.

In the summer of 2016, Dr Jonathan Ingram was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal for his work developing systems which led to BIM, by HRH The Duke of Kent at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Awards Dinner. The award is given out biannually to those who have given exceptional contributions to engineering through practice, management or education.

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