Jürgen Riegel started working on what would become FreeCAD in January 2001. CAS.CADE, a commercial software development framework including a geometric modeling kernel (or CAD kernel), had been released under an open source license in 2000 and renamed Open Cascade. This made the realisation of an open source 3D CAD program possible, as having to program a CAD kernel from scratch would have required a huge amount of work.
At first the project was called GOM (Graphical Object Modeler), and along with Open Cascade, the Qt application framework and the Python programming language were to be used.
The project was registered on SourceForge on 17 March 2002 under the name FreeCAD. In 2005, through the participation of Werner Mayer, code was donated and open sourced by the company Imetric, and was the foundation of the Mesh Module. Werner Mayer joined the FreeCAD project the same year. Also in 2005, the Open Cascade document framework was replaced by the project's own implementation. From then on, only the CAD kernel portion of Open Cascade would be used.
Yorik van Havre joined the project in 2008 and started work on the Draft Module. Before that point, there was no way to create 2D geometry through the GUI. This module was programmed entirely in Python rather than in C++, the core programming language used in FreeCAD. This proved that Python integration was a success and could be used to extend or customize FreeCAD's capabilities. In addition to his work on the Draft module, Yorik worked on expanding the FreeCAD documentation, and became FreeCAD's de facto "Art director", creating many icons for FreeCAD's GUI and defining its style.
Version 0.7 of FreeCAD released in April 2009 was the first to include the Draft module. The Part module provided a simple CSG workflow with creation of primitive shapes and boolean operations accessible through the Part menu. Extrusion of 2D profiles and filleting was also possible.
Version 0.8 released in July 2009 saw some more work in the Draft module, including a new Dimension tool. The Part module benefited from a new toolbar along with new tools, Revolve and Section.
By the end of 2009, FreeCAD was accepted as a Debian package in the Debian repositories. FreeCAD was added to the Ubuntu 10.04 repositories in 2010.
Version 0.10 released on July 2010 introduced the Sketcher Workbench, based on Sketchsolve, a constraint-based solver to create 2D geometry. The first version was limited to creation of rectangles and lines.
In early 2011, taking the opportunity given by the Launchpad online platform, the FreeCAD Maintainers team was created to provide fresh stable releases along with daily build packages of FreeCAD to users of the Ubuntu operating system.
Version 0.11 released in May 2011 introduced the new Part Design workbench which included tools such as Pad, Pocket, Fillet and Chamfer. The Draft workbench received enhancements and new tools, like BSpline. The Robot workbench featured more GUI tools.
Version 0.12 released in January 2012 featured a more complete Sketcher workbench. It included a totally rewritten solver, FreeGCS. It was the result of months of work by the main FreeCAD developers along with newcomers logari81 (who programmed the solver) and mrlukeparry. More tools were added to the PartDesign workbench.
|0.15||Current Developer Release|
|0.14||2014-07-01||Release notes 014|
|0.13||2013-01-29||Release notes 013|
|0.12||2011-12-20||Release notes 012|
|0.11||2011-05-03||Release notes 011|
|0.0.1||2002-10-29||Initial Upload --> The birth of FreeCAD|
|Latest preview version|
|Older version, still supported|