An appeal: PAFEC DOGS is worthy of conservation

Recently, there’s been quite a bit of banter in the comments of a post I wrote a couple of years ago about my first employer, PAFEC Ltd.

It’s got me thinking. It would be great to try to re-create a working copy of their most famous software package, DOGS (Design Office Graphics System) on (say) a modern Linux platform such as the Raspberry Pi, for conservation reasons.

As one of the first general purpose CAD packages on the market (it was first released around 1979 if my memory serves me correctly) that didn’t require specialist CAD hardware to operate it, as well as being the leading British CAD software package of the 1980s, it would be a shame not to try I think.

I’ve no idea who owns the rights to the software today, but if they’d like to get in touch I’d be very interested in putting together a small team together to start a conservation effort – assuming that they still have access to its source code.

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Reader Comments

  1. Mark Vandersluis

    Very dear to my heart too – I was the first permanent PAFEC employee on the project back in 1979 when there were just 20 people in the company, working with Jeremy Beck, Ian Smart and Ian Polaine. Richard Henshell would be a good place to start. I still have a release copy of Free PCDOGS, which I developed with Keith Shaw. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have any source code.

  2. Richard Thomas

    Good day gentlemen, I hope you can put something together. My employer used DOGS in the 80’s and 90’s and he himself used it up until I assume the license ran out as the software, last year it stopped working because of an expired license. I have seen a few DOS versions of DOGS sold on eBay over the years but I can tell you if you could get a copy of the software or recreate it he would be willing to pay for it, if it became available. They ran the UNIX based version of the software but at this point anything would be great. We saved his hard drive out of the machine to ensure we didn’t lose any of his DOGS files. We have been searching for a long time for someone who still had a working version of the software. Keep in touch and we hope for your success!

  3. Clive Briscoe

    Good evening gents

    DOGS (operating on a VAX-750 / UNIX) was my first CAD programme and I’ve still a soft spot for it. Very easy to use. I’ve got a DOS version but I don’t think it included a printer driver hence I haven’t used it for years. Would love to get it up and running again and be able to print off drawings. My BEng at Liverpool JM was gained through designing a railway carriage bogie using DOGS. The thesis then went on to win the Design Council top prize of 1989, the Sir Denis Rooke Award…


    Clive Briscoe, N Wales

    • Richard Thomas

      Good day Clive, if you are trying to get your DOGS files to open my employer use to export the files from PAFEC into .dfx files and then open them in AutoCAD so he could print them. Not sure if this is exactly what you are trying to do but if you want to start using the software again this maybe an option for you. My employer is still looking for a copy of the software not sure how the licensing worked on the software but if you want to share. “Gets on knees and begs” He would be more then willing to compensate you on a copy of your software. if you are willing to share. Let me know.

      Have a wonderful day!!

      Richard Thomas

  4. Tony

    When I was a PhD student at Leeds University the Science Research Council funded a VAX 11/780 hosted in MechEng. Some development work on DOGS was done there.

    A friend who was in CivEng (I was in CompSci) at Selly Oak Poly (aka Birmingham University) had DOGS and I wonder if he still has a copy. I’ll see if I can encourage him to contact you.

    • tim

      Thank you – that would be very interesting.

      I hadn’t realised that some development work on DOGS had been done at Leeds. I knew that the 3D modeller (Boxer) had started out life there as ‘noname’ – I still remember fighting with some of the automatically generated FORTRAN that came out of Flex when we were porting it to ‘interesting’ machines, such as the Norsk Data we had running the Syntran o/s!


    • Charles Beaton

      Hmm, memory lane for me as I type this!
      The system manager at the Leeds Mech. Eng. VAX-11/780 was Jim Swift, if I remember rightly. After Leeds Uni, I went to Birmingham University where I ran PDP-11s then later VAXes. I did indeed use Pafec Dogs. We ran it for about 5 years for undergraduate teaching courses.

      I do still have a copy of DOGS and am able to run it on a virtual VAXStation (3900) complete with graphics.
      I use simh to run my virtual pdp-11s and VAXes, under Linux (Centos 7).

      • tim

        Hi Charles,

        Thank you for your comment. I’d be really interested if you could share a screenshot or two of it running under emulation? Not sure if the comments box here will let you do that, but if not, my email contact details are on the ‘about me’ page.

        Many thanks,


  5. Mike Peatman

    I wish you well with that. I worked at PAFEC 1980/81 )year before Uni) and in a couple of Uni holidays afterwards. I was on PAFEC itself, but I remember the crew who worked on DOGS. We were using Prime 750 computers, of course. All written in Fortran 66 with PAFEC’s own extra strict rules.

  6. Philip Barlow

    Hi my name is Phil Barlow and I as once a user of Pafec Dogs software. I still have a copy of Dogs running on a computer of mine under Windows XP SP1. With the 2GB of memory it runs better than most programmes of today, the speed is awesome.
    Best regards

  7. Chris Heels

    Hi, my name is Chris. Was a Design Engineer for STC Defence Systems and used Dogs for the design of small and elaborate mechanical devices operated via a VAX. I can remember one day talking with one of the senior engineers in the development area; he actually did show me a 3.5″ floppy disc containing the Pafec dogs CAD package. Also a friend, not associated with the design field or the company I worked, also, did show me again a 3.5″ floppy disc and associated users manual that he actually sent off for as it was free.
    Do you know of any such discs that maybe available, and would it be at all possible to acquire the disc. I used dogs for many years, and I thought that it was a very worthwhile package and sufficiently good for the design in progress. Once you are familiar with the ins and outs and short cuts, it is a wonderful system to use. I do miss it.

    Thank you..

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