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Multitech, founded by Stan Shih, his wife Carolyn Yeh, and a group of five others in 1976, was renamed Acer in 1987. It began with eleven employees and US$25,000 in capital. Initially, it was primarily a distributor of electronic parts and a consultant in the use of microprocessor technologies. The global headquarters is in Hsichih City, Taiwan. Acer purchased Texas Instruments' mobile PC (laptop) division in 1997.
In 2000, Acer spun off its manufacturing operation (as Wistron Corporation) to focus itself on branding business. In deciding to support the sales of its product lines through specific marketing activities that best utilise distribution channels, Acer grew worldwide while its labour force contracted. In 2002, the pan Acer Group employed 39,000 people supporting dealers and distributors in more than 100 countries.
Acer America Corporation, headquartered in San Jose, California, is a member of the Acer Group. Acer's R&D, engineering, manufacturing and marketing operations in the United States and Canada are handled by Acer America Corporation. In September 1990, Acer acquired Altos Computer Systems, one of the top manufacturers of multiuser and networked UNIX computer systems for commercial markets. In February 1997, Acer acquired Texas Instruments Mobile Computing business, including the award-winning TravelMate and Extensa notebook lines, making Acer the fourth-leading notebook manufacturer in the United States.
Acer America's Canadian office, in Mississauga, Ontario, handles sales and marketing, manufacturing, and customer service activities in Canada. Acer owns Gateway and Packard Bell brands in North America.