As was mentioned in Part I, the history of Finite Element Analysis is deeply intertwined with the evolution of computing. It seems only fitting that the FEA software used to design the world's most cutting-edge products should have the most cutting edged computational techniques at its disposal.
From the early punched days of the 60's through the 2000's,FEA companies have found unique ways to take advantage of the ever changing computer landscape.
GUIs - "1984 won't be like 1984:
1984 - The Apple "Lisa" was released. Named after Steve Job's daughter, the computer would be a commercial flop, but would pave the way for the Graphical User Interface and the industry changing, Macintosh.
1985 - The same year that Microsoft unveiled the Windows OS, AutoCAD 2 was released. It was designed to run on "microcomputers", including two of the new 16-bit systems, the Victor 9000 and the IBM Personal Computer (PC). This version consisted of over 100,000 line of C code and had a list price of $2,000.
1985 - Altair Engineering was founded in a garage in Detroit, MI. Their first product was HyperMesh, followed by the award-winning FE based topology optimization tool, OptiStruct. A product they would later buy, the RADIOSS Finite Element solver, required 20 hours to solve a 20 K element crash simulation in 1987. If you fast forward to 2013, RADIOSS is able to parallelize a 15 million element crash simulation to 128 cores and see results in 5 hours. That represents a nearly 4000% increase in computational power. Most of this gain, however, can be accredited to the doubling of computational speed every 18 months.
1991 - NEi Software was founded as Noran Engineering, Inc. Their product, NEi Nastran was a spinoff of the original MSC - NASA codebase, but with a GUI and improved performance.