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He is credited with having expanded the Burroughs Export Department into a major division of the firm and was early in recognizing the importance of underdeveloped nations for the American economy. Under his direction, Burroughs, long a respected name in accounting machines, calculators, and other office machines, became a leader in the field of electronic data processing equipment, pioneering such major techniques as microprogramming and virtual memory.

MacDonald served as a member of the Council on Chicago Booth, a director of the Committee for a National Trade Policy, and a trustee of the Manpower Institute. He also was a member of the British North American Committee, the Foreign Policy Committee, and the U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce.