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Building information modelling (BIM) is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. Building information models (BIMs) are files (often but not always in proprietary formats and containing proprietary data) which can be extracted, exchanged or networked to support decision-making regarding a building or other built asset. Current BIM software is used by individuals, businesses and government agencies who plan, design, construct, operate and maintain diverse physical infrastructures, such as water, refuse, electricity, gas, communication utilities, roads, bridges, ports, tunnels, etc.
The concept of BIM has existed since the 1970s.
The term 'building model' (in the sense of BIM as used today) was first used in papers in the mid-1980s: in a 1985 paper by Simon Ruffle eventually published in 1986, and later in a 1986 paper by Robert Aish - then at GMW Computers Ltd, developer of RUCAPS software - referring to the software's use at London's Heathrow Airport. The term 'Building Information Model' first appeared in a 1992 paper by G.A. van Nederveen and F. P. Tolman.
However, the terms 'Building Information Model' and 'Building Information Modeling' (including the acronym "BIM") did not become popularly used until some 10 years later. In 2002, Autodesk released a white paper entitled "Building Information Modeling," and other software vendors also started to assert their involvement in the field. By hosting contributions from Autodesk, Bentley Systems and Graphisoft, plus other industry observers, in 2003, Jerry Laiserin helped popularize and standardize the term as a common name for the digital representation of the building process. Facilitating exchange and interoperability of information in digital format had previously been offered under differing terminology by Graphisoft as "Virtual Building", Bentley Systems as "Integrated Project Models", and by Autodesk or Vectorworks as "Building Information Modeling".
As Graphisoft had been developing such solutions for longer than its competitors, Laiserin regarded its ArchiCAD as then "one of the most mature BIM solutions on the market" but also highlighted the pioneering role of applications such as RUCAPS, Sonata and Reflex (on 23 June 2016, the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering presented its Prince Philip Gold Medal to Jonathan Ingram, the developer of Sonata and Reflex, for his pioneering work on BIM). Following its launch in 1987, ArchiCAD became regarded by some as the first implementation of BIM, as it was the first CAD product on a personal computer able to create both 2D and 3D geometry, as well as the first commercial BIM product for personal computers.
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