From the outset, Revit was intended to allow architects and other building professionals to design and document a building by creating a parametric three-dimensional model that included both the geometry and non-geometric design and construction information, which is also known as Building Information Modeling or BIM (1975 Eastman C.). At the time, several other software packages—such as ArchiCAD and Reflex—provided a three-dimensional virtual building model, and let the user control individual components via parameters (parametric components). Two key differences in Revit were that users created parametric components in a graphical “family editor” rather than a programming language, and the model captured all relationships between components, views, and annotations so that a change to any element automatically propagated to keep the model consistent. For example, moving a wall updated neighboring walls, floors, and roofs, corrected the placement and values of dimensions and notes, adjusted the floor areas reported in schedules, redrew section views, etc.—so that the model remained connected and all documentation was coordinated. The concept of bi-directional associativity between components, views, and annotations was a distinguishing feature of Revit for many releases. The ease of making changes inspired the name Revit, a contraction of Revise-Instantly. At the heart of Revit is a parametric change propagation engine that relied on a new technology, context-driven parametrics, that was more scalable than the variational and history-driven parametrics used in mechanical CAD software. The term Parametric Building Model was adopted to reflect the fact that changes to parameters drove the whole building model and associated documentation, not just individual components.
The company was renamed Revit Technology Corporation in January 2000. Revit version 1.0 was released on April 5, 2000. The software progressed rapidly, with version 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 4.0, and 4.1 released in August 2000; October 2000; February 2001; June 2001; November 2001; and January 2002, respectively.
The software was initially offered only as a monthly rental, with no option to purchase. Licensing was controlled by an entirely automatic process, an innovation at a time when human intervention and manual transmission of authorization codes was required to buy other types of design software.
Autodesk, best known for its AutoCAD line of products, purchased the Massachusetts-based Revit Technology Corporation for US$133 million in 2002. The purchase allowed more research, development and improvement of the software. Autodesk has released several versions of Revit since 2004. In 2005 Revit Structure was introduced, then in 2006 Revit MEP. After the 2006 release Revit Building was renamed Revit Architecture.
Since Revit 2013 the different disciplines have been rolled into one product, simply called Revit.
With their Revit platform, Autodesk is a significant player in the BIM market together with Nemetschek (makers of ArchiCAD, AllPlan] and Vectorworks), and Gehry Technologies with CATIA based Digital Project.