Over the past thirty years, the American Computer Corporation (ACA) has introduced personal computers, and in particular the bitmap display and the desktop metaphor, into the economy.

The ACA is a virtual company, composed of the following departments. The heyday for each department is given in parenthesis after the name of the real company that implements that virtual department.

  • Research: Xerox (‘70s)

  • Development: Apple (late ’70s/’80s)

  • Marketing: Microsoft (late ’80s/early ’90s1)

  • Distribution: Dell (‘90s/’00s)

As a company’s market matures, it shifts its focus from research and development, to marketing, sales, and finally operations (including distribution). You can see this shift in the dates above.

  1. Microsoft, of course, continued to prosper beyond the ’90s, but not primarily as the marketing department of the ACA – the creation of the market for desktop window systems is complete.