John recently posted a question about the history of CorelDRAW in the forums. This has been something that I wanted to post for a while. But first, I wanted to give a special thank you to my colleague Roger who has helped me get this information together. Here is a little history of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite for Windows (I won't go over the Mac or OS/2 versions here, neither will I discuss all the alternative versions such as the Premium or Essential Editions).

CorelDRAW version 1.00  was released in January 1989.

CorelDRAW version 1.01 followed shortly after (in March 1989) and introduced back-up when saving... by editing a line in the win.ini file, the user was able to cause the application to rename the original .cdr file to a .bak file. This version also included the capability to draw from center out (rectangles and squares could be drawn from the center out by holding down the shift key while drawing) as well as a Control Panel Access (the file menu was modified to include a "Control Panel" option which calls up the Windows CONTROL.EXE program.  This would allow the user to select an alternate printer without leaving CorelDRAW).

CorelDRAW version 1.02 was released April 1989. Highlights of this version included the IBM PIF file format support (importing and exporting of IBM's PIF format for use in mainframe applications was added)
CorelDRAW version 1.10 came out in July 1989, with new type faces (users had access to 102 different type styles from 35 families as well as a visual guide to all type styles). WFN BOSS Type face Conversion utility was also introduced to allow the user to convert fonts from a host of other manufacturers to the WFN format that CorelDRAW used. This version also included over 340 cliparts.

CorelDRAW version 1.11 was released in February 1990 and added AutoCAD DXF import/export support.

CorelDRAW version 2 was released in 1991. New features included Print Merge to enable user to merge text files with graphics files and print the result, greatly reduces the time it takes to do repetitive designs where only the text was changing. Version 2 also introduced the Envelope tool (for distorting text or objects using a primary shape), the Blend tool (for morphing shapes), the Extrusion tool (for simulating perspective and volume in objects) and the Perspective tool (to distort objects along X and Y axes).

CorelDRAW version 3 was released in October 1992. This version added Editable Preview Mode, e.g.the ability to work in editable preview mode, with objects displayed in full detail, including color, as well as Roll-ups, a new type of dialog box that was implemented in CorelDRAW 3.0. These control some basic functions, as well as some of the program's more complex features. What made them special is that they remained on screen and active as long as you want them there. They streamlined many operations, since you don't have to repeatedly access a dialog box through a menu item to fine tune a certain parameter. CorelDRAW version 3.0 is also the first suite of graphics applications for Windows as it included Corel PHOTO-PAINT which gave users the ability to create, edit or modify raster images.

CorelDRAW version 4 was released in May 1993. This version provided multi-page capability, allowing you to create documents with as many as 999 pages per document. This version also introduced the Floating Toolbox, enabling to double-click on the gray area below the Fill tool and CorelDRAW would then move the toolbox away from the edge of the editing window. From there you where able drag it wherever you want. CorelDRAW also remembered where you last placed the Toolbox, and keept it there the next time you loaded CorelDRAW.

CorelDRAW version 5 was made available in July 1994. Postscript and TrueType fonts support was added. OLE2 enabled to Insert images into any CorelDRAW 5 application in a faster and easier way than before with the addition of OLE 2 drag and drop support. A powerful color management system was also added to CorelDRAW 5, allowing you to custom calibrate your monitor, printer, and scanner to achieve a more accurate on-screen representation of colors used in your documents.
CorelDRAW version 6 was released on August 24, 1995, the same day Microsoft launched Windows 95. This is the version with full 32 bit support. This version also increased the maximum page size from 35"x35" to 150 feet X 150 feet and added the graph paper tool. And one more thing... CorelDRAW 6 was the last version to be available on floppy disks.  The program came on 54 - 1.44MB 3.5 inch disks!!! Yes

CorelDRAW version 7 was released in April 1997, adding the Interactive Property bar, a context-sensitive tool bar that changed according to the tool and object you selected. It provided all the tools you needed at your fingertips and presented options available to you at any given point. For power-users, the Property Bar also provided access to the advanced functions. In addition, version 7 included support for scripting. Almost all commands and tools where open to OLE Automation in CorelDRAW 7 allowing you to write scripts to automate functions using Corel SCRIPT or any OLE 2-enabled scripting language, like Visual Basic. A new Script Manager enabled you manage your scripts. In addition, version 7 also added new Writing Tools including the Automatic Spell Checker, Thesaurus, and Grammar Checker.

CorelDRAW version 8 was released in April 1998. This version introduced the Interactive Drop Shadow tool, a great addition to the interactive tool list, letting you apply a bitmap drop shadow to virtually any object that you created. The Interactive Vector enabled you to adjust the direction, opacity, and color of the drop shadow. This version also added distortion tools, enabling you to apply a push and pull effect to drag nodes inward or outward from any point on the Drawing Page. The Zipper tool changed a line to a curve and creates a zigzag effect on an object. The Twister tool swirled the nodes in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction around a center point. Multi-file Import was also introduced with this version. The Import dialog box enabled to select multiple files using SHIFT or CTRL.  When importing multiple images, you where able to specify the exact location on the Drawing Page before placing the image, in the right size.

CorelDRAW version 9 was released in December 1999. This version brought Multiple Color Palettes, enabling you to customize your workspace to display multiple color palettes simultaneously to improve the speed and flexibility with which you created drawings. The Interactive Drop Shadow tool was enhanced to enable the creation of perspective drop shadows. The sides of the shadow converged to a vanishing point to create the illusion of a three-dimension depth. You where also able to change a shadow's direction, and the distance between it and the object, its color and opacity, and the feathering of its edges. Version 9 also added a Mini Print Preview feature to quickly preview print jobs, as well as the Palette Editor to create your own custom color palettes or edit existing custom palettes, applying color theories.

CorelDRAW version 10 was released in Oct 2000. It was the first version called CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. The Page Sorter View enabled you to view thumbnails of all the pages in a document, with drag-and-drop functionality that allowed you to reorder and manage pages in their document (you where also able to reorder pages by using the page tabs located at the bottom of the workspace). Publish to PDF made its debut in version 10, with embed ICC color profile, author and keyword information, as well as fountain fills and Mesh fills support. In RIP Trapping enabled to streamline the workflow by specifying trapping and separations parameters in advance with a full range of In-RIP trapping options for PostScript 3 output devices and In-RIP separations options. Color Management was completely redesigned with a new UI to make color management more intuitive by combining all the essential color management options in one dialog box.  

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11 was released in August 2002. With Symbols, CorelDRAW 11 enabled you to create objects and store them in a reusable library, being defined once and referenced many times in a drawing, so using symbols for objects that appear many times in a drawing helped reduce file size. 3 point curve and recangle tools where also introduced with this version. Version 11 also added the option of maintaining formatting, maintaining fonts and formatting, or discarding fonts and formatting when importing or pasting text.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 was introduced in January 2004. New features included enhanced text alignment (align text objects to other objects using the first text baseline, last text baseline, or the bounding box), and dynamic guides to help you precisely position, align, and draw objects relative to other objects. Dynamic guides are temporary guides you where able to pull from the snapping points in objects such as center, node, quadrant, and text baseline.  CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 also added Unicode text support to the engine, allowing users to exchange files effortlessly, regardless of the language or operating system in which the file was created, ensuring that text displays correctly. And for enterprises who deployed hundreds if not thousands of seats of CorelDRAW, version 12 provided multi-lingual deployment support, greatly reducing the cost from an IT perspective.

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 was released in February 2006. This version introduced a brand new tracing engine called PowerTRACE to convert bitmaps into Vector graphics, a new Cut-Out lab in Corel PHOTO-PAINT based on the technology of Corel KnockOut and the new Image Adjustment Lab to quickly optimize digital photos. This version also added the capability of cropping vector objects, previously only possible with bitmaps as well as many enhancements related to the text editing tools. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 also added new learning tools such as the hints docker (a contextual docker with information about the tool you are using) or the Insights from the Experts tutorials. And if you have CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3, you can go to the help menu and select "What's new since..." to see some of this history highlighted in your applications. 

This list is obviously only a small selection of the many new features that have been introduced version after version. Anything I've missed, please add your own comments to this thread. And most if not all the features that where introduced in older versions today still exist in one form or another in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3.

[Added January 12, 2009] CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 was announced on January 22, 2008. This latest version introduced live text formatting (allowing users to preview text formatting options before applying them to a document), interactive tables, additional file formats support (including PDF 1.7 and MS Publisher 2007), RAW support for over 300 cameras, as well as independent page layers to enable users to control and edit layers independently for each page of a document, reducing the occurrence of pages with empty layers. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 also introduced online services such as a direct link to for font identification as well as the integration of CorelDRAW ConceptShare for online collaboration. Version X4 was also the first version certified and optimized for Windows Vista, integrating with the desktop search capabilities and enabling high-resolution thumbnails for the CorelDRAW and Corel PHOTO-PAINT files.