David Weisberg has published online a comprehensive history of CAD, which is available free at http://www.cadhistory.net.
I had a quick skim through a couple of chapters to see what, if anything, he’d written about construction collaboration technologies – and he hasn’t ignored them. Chapter 6 (Autodesk and AutoCAD, PDF), for example, has a page or so devoted to the early years of Buzzsaw. In it (pp.44-46) he describes the extranet hysteria of the late 1990s/early 2000s:
“Over a period of several years more than $1 billion in venture funding was provided to nearly 170 companies including Blueline/Online, BricsNet, Bidcom, Cubus, Buildpoint.”
“By mid-2000, Buzzsaw had 240 employees, 10,500 projects on-line and 50,000 registered users … [and] … was chewing up cash at a $10 million per quarter rate.”
Similarly, Chapter 10 (Bentley Systems Incorporated, PDF) also looks at ProjectWise (pp.17-18) and Viecon (pp.19-21).
Given that the book as a whole is focused on CAD, the relatively peripheral coverage of ‘extranet’ products is perhaps to be expected. The subliminal impression I also got was that extranets also weren’t seen as core products by the CAD companies themselves. Of course this may change (I noted recently, for example, that ProjectWise was mentioned in AECcafe.com in relation to Bentley’s Project Athens), but at the moment, I sometimes feel that these products are what are sometimes categorised as ‘problem children’ in the CAD vendors’ product portfolios.