Google Sketchup screen shot. Source: kam, Flickr.com
Google Sketchup screen shot. Source: kam, Flickr.com

In 1999 Brad Schell and Joe Esch decided there was a need for a 3D content creation tool "that would allow design professionals to draw the way they want by emulating the feel and freedom of working with pen and paper in a simple and elegant interface, that would be fun to use and easy to learn, and that would be used by designers to play with their designs in a way that is not possible with traditional design software. It also has user friendly buttons to make it easier to use."1

Together, Schell and Esch co-founded @ Last Software and created SketchUp, 3D for everyone. SketchUp was so successful, that in 2000 it won the DigitalCAD Community Choice Award at the A/E/C SYSTEMS Fall 2000 tradeshow. Digital Media Net reported that, “SketchUp from @Last Software has been driven by the growing need among design professionals for a more intuitive and accessible 3D modeling program. The core of SketchUp is an interface in which the user simply draws the edges of the desired model in 3D space and the software automatically ‘fills’ the shapes to create 3D geometry.”2

Google became interested in SketchUp when @Last Software developed a plug-in for Google Earth. In March 2006 Google purchased SketchUp in an undisclosed deal. A Google spokeswoman reportedly said, “"We can confirm that we have acquired @Last, and we are happy to welcome their talented team to Google."3

Under @Last Software’s watch, SketchUp sold for $495.00. Google wanted SketchUp to be available to everyone. Therefore on December 14, 2007, they released a free version know as SketchUp 6. Google also offered a Pro version for $495.00 that included more exporting and importing options, but the main software was the same as the free version. Subsequently, SketchUp Version 7 was released in 2008 with the introduction of Dynamic Components that made it possible for interactive models to have properties assigned to them on the fly. In 2010 SketchUp 8 was released with more upgrades and new features. The Pro version included Solid Tools. 

In 2012, SketchUp was purchased by Trimble Navigation, a company know for specializing in satellite mapping. It was announced that the two companies will “work together for the foreseeable future,” and "collaborate on running and further developing SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse."4