Interesting history of IGES:
In the year of 1979, events took place that catalyzed the CAD vendor and user community to make the first national standard for CAD data exchange. Mechanical CAD systems were below ten years old, and there were just a handful of products along any significant market penetration. Even at this early on stage, users were overwhelmed through the inability to share data between these tools and along with their own internally-developed databases. Frustration was evident at fateful two-day Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) meeting in the Fall of year 1979. On the initial day, an attendee from General Electric (GE) challenged a panel of CAD vendors, that involved Computer Vision, Applicon and Gerber, to work together to enable a common neutral exchange mechanism. Whereas this need was intuitive from user perspective, this was an extremely threatening proposition to the CAD vendors - who feared that publicly sharing the structures of their databases would be tantamount to giving away their competitive advantage. It would have been simple to gloss over the challenge; after all, the main vendors all had at least token representation on the ANSI committee responsible for CAD standards. Instead, the Computer Vision representative responded along with a challenge of his own: If Boeing and General Electric (and possibly others) would contribute the CAD translators they had already developed; the vendors would share their database structures.
What led to this propose was fortunate blend of business motivation and private agendas. It just so happened that the evening before the CAD panel, a CAD vendor representative was excitedly recruiting employees for his (unannounced) new robotics company. In making this company, he gained the user's perspective: his product was going to ought to have access to CAD data! If he could set the wheels in motion for the CAD vendors to make public their database structures, his new company would have a better possibility at success; though, an exchange standard was also in the CAD vendors' best interest. The CAD vendors attempt to distinguish themselves depend on loyalty to their customers that also had the negative effect of dividing the end users into camps. There were great Navy contracts looming on the horizon, and no vendor desired to look unresponsive to customer needs.