ENERCALC History

Our story

42 years of engineering software

Like many companies, ENERCALC started simple. A DOS-based PC. A Visicalc spreadsheet. Then a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. Today, over 30000 engineers depend on our software, a responsibility we take very seriously.

In 1981, Michael Brooks worked as a structural engineer at his father’s engineering firm. Brooks’ work included designing structural components for tilt-up / small office buildings. He soon realized the repetitive nature of this design work, which prompted him to design spreadsheets to automate the repetitive aspects.

Over time, they became a set of 26 Lotus 1-2-3 engineering spreadsheets. These spreadsheets improved his productivity, so Brooks decided to market the set to engineers. The set of 26 spreadsheet “templates” was the first Structural Engineering Library sold by ENERCALC Engineering Software in 1982, later to become ENERCALC, Inc.

The rest of the ENERCALC story continues below…

2024 - Still focused on helping the engineer down the street

This year we’ll be at SEAOC 2024 in PDX, 2024 NASCC Steel Conference, November’s NCSEA Summit 2024 (Las Vegas, NV), and Autodesk University 2024 (San Diego, CA). Be sure to take advantage of our trade show training sessions – they’re FREE.

Can’t make it to a show? Maybe a remote lunch and learn with one of our engineers?

Our development team is still expanding and there’s a lot in the pipeline. More to come…

2023 - Trade shows (again, finally), and a growing team.

We’ve hit the trade show circuit again. So far in 2023, we’ve been visiting with customers at the 2023 NASCC Steel Conference, the 2023 SEASC Convention in Columbia SC, November’s NCSEA Summit 2023 (Anaheim, CA), and Autodesk University 2023 (Las Vegas, NV). Be sure to take advantage of our trade show training sessions – they’re FREE.

We’ve doubled the size of our development and support teams.

2022 - Acquisition

Acquired by Merit Holdings, an investment firm modeled after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (“buy great companies you love and understand, and hold them forever – unless their story changes”), and Constellation Software of Canada. ENERCALC is reorganized as ENERCALC, LLC, which absorbed ENERCALC, Inc.

The company retained 100% of our leadership, support, and development team after the acquisition, with the exception of Mr. Michael Brooks, our founder and former owner. Onward to a new chapter and our next forty years! COO Mark Riffey named CEO of ENERCALC, LLC. 

2021 - ENERCALC Build 20 and ENERCALC for Revit

We released ENERCALC Build 20, a significant update.

Build 20 introduces the following improvements:

  • All-in-one licensing that’s more flexible. Engineers may use their licenses to run the software on their computer, or to use our software via our cloud platform, or both. An installed seat is equivalent to a cloud seat.
  • The ability to use local project files on your computer or store them in the Amazon cloud. This provides full synchronization between cloud and installed users. It also provides replicated backup of your project file every time it is saved – on Amazon’s world-class storage.
  • An Autodesk Revit Add-in, “ENERCALC for Revit”, that provides real-time two-way synchronization of analysis & design results between ENERCALC and Revit.
  • A user interface that’s larger, more attractive, better organized, and more consistent look and feel.
  • Performance improvements in the UI and calculations.
  • Better use of multi-core processors.
  • Refined activation system with better awareness of internet security.

Build 20 offers several new modules:

  • ENERCALC 3D (previously available only to cloud users – now integrated into the desktop)
  • Steel Base Plate by FEM
  • General Footing by FEM
  • Flitch Plated Wood Beam
  • All 7 Retaining Wall modules from RetainPro – using the SEL user interface.
2020 - ENERCALC Build 12

ENERCALC released Structural Engineering Library Build 12, which featured file handling improvements and numerous internal refinements.

2018 - 3D sketches added

ENERCALC added detailed 3D sketches to most modules.

2017 - ENERCALC Build 10

ENERCALC released the next generation of Structural Engineering Library, Build 10. The software is now based on a new generation of powerful development tools. These tools allow us to build more efficient processes while providing a fresh, new look.

2007 - ENERCALC Build 6

ENERCALC released Version 6 of Structural Engineering Library. This new version included significant design improvements. Version 6 included new solvers, graphics, reporting, and user interface. The version 6 database design prepared our new platform for the future – a design that is still in use today.

1996 - ENERCALC for Windows

We released ENERCALC Structural Engineering Library 5.0 for Windows. It was a complete rewrite of the prior 15 years of work. 5.0 retained most of our proven “C” language engineering calculation processes. We redesigned the rest of the system, written from scratch for Windows. The days of a spreadsheet-based program were gone… replaced by a new system designed to be as easy as 1-2-3.

1994 - The "Volkswagen" of structural engineering software

As Lotus 1-2-3 declined in use, ENERCALC rewrote the software’s user interface. We kept the same “look and feel” as Lotus to make the change easy for users. Version 4.4 for DOS debuted in August, and produced a large increase in ENERCALC’s user base. It became known as the “Volkswagen of structural engineering software”.

1987 - FastFrame 2-D

We introduced our first application of the Lotus 1-2-3 / C integrated technology: FastFrame 2-D. FastFrame transformed an off-the-shelf spreadsheet program into a powerful finite element analysis system. Before founding RISA Technologies, Bruce Bates developed the FastFrame solver. That solver would later become the foundation of RISA 2D. Complicated batch processed frame analysis systems became obsolete. Now users could change a number in a spreadsheet to recalculate their entire frame in an instant. Lotus’ corporate development team didn’t expect to find their “business tool” performing complex engineering analysis of multi-story buildings.

1986 - Use of the Lotus 1-2-3 API

Lotus introduced a tool for programmers to link programs to the internals of 1-2-3. This allowed ENERCALC to improve performance with no change to the user interface. The engineering programs were rewritten in the “C” programming language because the calculation capabilities of a spreadsheet were too limited (and indeed today a spreadsheet is no match for compiled, purpose-built code). These high-performance programs connected to 1-2-3 “templates” using the new Lotus tool. The Lotus spreadsheets became data entry / output screens driven by these powerful programs. This eliminated a major weakness in engineering calculation spreadsheets: the inability to iterate.

 

ENERCALC 4.2 floppy disks

1982 - ENERCALC Engineering Software founded

The set of 26 spreadsheet “templates” was the first Structural Engineering Library sold by ENERCALC Engineering Software, later to become ENERCALC, Inc.

1981 - The work inspires an idea.

Michael Brooks worked at his father’s engineering firm as a structural engineer. Brooks’ work included designing structural components for tilt-up / small office buildings. He soon realized the repetitive nature of this design work. Brooks designed spreadsheets to automate the repetitive aspects of his work. Over time, this work became a set of 26 Lotus 1-2-3 engineering spreadsheets. These spreadsheets improved his productivity, so Brooks decided to market it to engineers.