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History of Embroidery Field

Before computers were affordable, most embroidery digitizing was completed by "punching" designs on paper tape that then ran through a mechanical embroidery machine. One error could ruin an entire design, forcing the creator to start over. In 1980, Wilcom introduced the first computer graphics embroidery design system running on a mini-computer.

The operator would "digitize" the design into the computer using similar techniques to "punching", and the machine would stitch out the digitized design. Wilcom enhanced this technology in 1982 with the introduction of the first multi-user system that allowed more than one person to be working on a different part of the embroidery process, vastly streamlining production times.

However, as costs have fallen for computers, software, and embroidery machines, computerized machine embroidery has rapidly grown in popularity since the late 1990s. Many machine manufacturers sell their own lines of embroidery patterns for those who don't want to create their own. In addition, many individuals and independent companies also sell embroidery designs, and there are thousands of free designs available on the internet.

Digitized embroidery design files can be either purchased or created. Many machine embroidery designs can be downloaded from web sites and one can be sewing them out within minutes. If design files are to be created, special software is needed to digitize the design. Software vendors often advertise "auto-punching" or "auto-digitizing" capabilities. However, if high quality embroidery is essential, then industry experts highly recommend either purchasing solid designs from reputable digitizers or obtaining training on solid digitization techniques.

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