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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

The expanding world of computers

The onward sweep of automatic processing of information is impeded by nine principal barriers: geography, cost, problem complexity, man-machine communication, inadequate sensors, lack of understanding, distance, time, and size. The main incentive for breaching these barriers is the universal need for processing information, ever more urgent as the greater part of human work activity changes from production to service. Computer developments in hardware, programming, time-sharing, education, data communication, and displays are judged by how effectively they remove these barriers, and their barrier-smashing potentialities indicate continued rapid expansion. Problem-oriented languages are particularly effective over the entire front. Online computers and time-sharing also rate high by this measure. Education and increased understanding are basic to all progress with the computer. This complex but powerful tool is the most important one available to governments and scientists to use in studying the problems being created by the population explosion, and in analyzing possible solutions.

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