Designs of the times

It was nearly 40 years ago when New England staked its claim as a hub for the computer-aided design industry.

The ripple effect since has led to a new crop of firms that now develop niche software tools in specialty CAD markets to design everything from the latest European motorcycles to selling refrigerators.

It all started in 1969, when industry pioneer Computervision Inc. was founded in Bedford. Three years later, Prime Computer Corp. was started in Natick, and the two companies merged in 1988, eventually adopting the Computervision name.

When Needham-based Parametric Technology Corp. acquired Computervision for $490 million, it formed what remains today as one of the CAD industry giants alongside others like SolidWorks Corp. in Concord.