Circuitmaker Back Story

Dale J. Robertson dale at
Mon Feb 25 10:07:10 CST 2008

CircuitMaker's licensing status has been a little bit murky for a few 
years now.
I am one of their original licensees and rode the product down to the 
bitter end (around 2002 or so)
The product was originally produced by a small firm in Utah named 
MicroCode Engineering. They did all the work on it right up to 
Circuitmaker 2000. They also gave away massive numbers of licenses to 
Colleges, Trade schools etc. In what would become probably their last 
gasp, Protel bought Microcode. It is unclear whether Protel bought the 
product in order to kill it or they just never had the resources to do 
any further development. In any case Protel never did anything further 
with the product and provided really abysmal support. The product still 
generated some cash and Protel had no competing product, So Protel 
continued to sell it for a few years in the state you see it in. Protel 
was ultimately unsuccessful in making a dent in the market with their 
own own mid-range tools (Protel PCB etc.) and were bought out by Altium.
Altium had a product that was sort of competitive with circuitworks, So, 
after fulfilling any support obligations inherited from Protel, Killed 
the product.
It did not seem possible that Altium could provide worse support than 
Protel (short of coming to your house and breaking something that was 
working) but they managed.
A few months ago I contacted them to see if I could get a replacement 
distribution CD (I had possession of one but it was physically damaged 
and unreadable) and after the Rep had ascertained that I would not be 
"upgrading" to Altium Designer, Pointed me to the Web saying that the 
last full version of CircuitMaker Pro was "out there" if i looked hard 
I can't even begin to imagine why a company would do that if it was 
jealously guarding it's intellectual property.
I don't believe Altium Designer contains any part of or is descended 
from CircuitMaker in any way. Altium has tried to position it as a 
replacement for CircuitMaker, But at $5K to $14K per seat (plus 20% 
maintenance) it hardly qualifies. An upgrade to the lowest cost flavor 
of Designer costs over 10 times what my total cost of purchasing and 
maintaining Circuitmaker all the years they were alive. Just their 
annual maintenance is almost three times the last purchase price of 
Dale NV8U

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