Free Trial Download and try today

Design Master Software Celebrates 20 Years

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Twenty years ago this month, in March of 2001, Design Master Software, Inc., made itself known to the world through a print ad in the ASHRAE Journal’s Classifieds section. We made our first sale the following June. Of our customers from that first year, a few are still with us today, including Washington Engineering & Architecture, who did a customer story with us in 2014.

Design Master 1.0

Design Master Electrical and HVAC 1.0 had many of the same core features present in the software today:

  • Defining and connecting panels and transformers (anything else had to be modeled as a panel)
  • Wire sizing
  • Fault and voltage drop calculations
  • Circuiting for light fixtures, receptacles, equipment, switches, and junction boxes
  • Ductwork drafting and sizing
  • Building load calculations

The most notable absence: any sort of user customization. We quickly found out that was a mistake—it turns out designers have some strong opinions about how things look. They do not like being forced to conform to someone else’s standards!

The images below offer a glimpse into the original user interface for both programs.

  • DM Electrical 1.0 pulldown menu.

Early Engagement

Our early marketing and user engagement strategies ran the gamut, from our first website. . .

  • The first Design Master website, circa 2001.

to print ads large and small. . .

  • ASHRAE Journal ad, September 2001.

to sending mailers containing an advertisement printed on a full-size drawing and a CD-ROM with promotional videos. . .


to attending conventions and even holding our own user conferences.

  • David Robison explaining project and database management. Design Master user conference, Cincinnati, OH, 2006.

Looking Back

Much has changed about the software in the last 20 years. We made user customization a priority. Features were modified, built upon, and added, from one-line diagrams to 3-D model exports. Point-by-point photometrics in DM Electrical was so popular among civil engineers we eventually made it available as a separate, standalone package in DM Photometrics. We also rolled out other software packages, from DM Plumbing to DM Electrical Contractor (a short-lived standalone for our takeoff commands) to DM Electrical RT for Revit.

The company itself has grown as well. As 2001 came to a close, Design Master Software, Inc., was three people: David Robison, software development; Mark Robison, engineering; and Bob Robison, sales and marketing. In 2006, Jason Schindler was hired as a software developer, followed a year later by Derrick Godman. Bob left the company in 2009 to pursue a project management role at Robison Engineering, Mark’s engineering firm. Kane Martin joined in 2018 as a technical writer. More information about the current team is available on our About page.

The last 20 years would not have been possible without the help of every Design Master user who purchased the software, offered feedback, submitted bug reports, spread the word to other professionals, or advocated for the software’s use at their company. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.