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Project MAC: Excerpts from "Proposal for a Research and Development Program on Computer Systems"7

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129717D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 2 page(s) / 17K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Robert Fano: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The single activity which may have been crucial to the instigation of Project MAC was a train ride between Hot Springs, Va., and Washington, D. C. In the leisurely pace of both 1962 and the American South, J.C.R. Licklider and Robert Fano had the opportunity for a meeting of the minds. An apparently reluctant participant, Fano found himself as the logical choice to be the director of this much larger project, and therefore the one to produce a proposal which would justify Licklider's confidence in asking MIT to continue the work not only on time-sharing, but also on the wider use of computers in an interactive environment Fano prepared a proposal between Thanksgiving (November) 1962 and New Year's Day 1963.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1992 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Project MAC: Excerpts from "Proposal for a Research and Development Program on Computer Systems"7

Robert Fano

The single activity which may have been crucial to the instigation of Project MAC was a train ride between Hot Springs, Va., and Washington, D. C. In the leisurely pace of both 1962 and the American South, J.C.R. Licklider and Robert Fano had the opportunity for a meeting of the minds. An apparently reluctant participant, Fano found himself as the logical choice to be the director of this much larger project, and therefore the one to produce a proposal which would justify Licklider's confidence in asking MIT to continue the work not only on time-sharing, but also on the wider use of computers in an interactive environment Fano prepared a proposal between Thanksgiving (November) 1962 and New Year's Day 1963.

Computer technology has been progressing by leaps and bounds over the last decade, in terms of reliability, size and cost of components, speed of operation, and ease of assembly. On the other hand, the development of techniques for exploiting computers in non-numerical information processing, and as aids in research and in human problem solving and decision making, has been relatively lagging. Specifically, computer systems (including programming aids, operational organization, and input, output, and display equipment) have not yet been developed that are easily and economically accessible, and that are truly flexible and responsive to individual needs, particularly the need for quick, direct response. There is substantial evidence that such computer systems can be developed, and that they will play a much more effective role in supporting and extending human cognitive capabilities.

An "on-line" mode of operation in which the individual scientist, problem solver, or decision maker is tightly coupled with a computer system of very large memory and speed appears attractive. It appears even more attractive as we envision the evolution of such a system to provide ready communication with others through machine information retrieval, including the development and use of open data files and public subroutines. On the other hand, in order for any such system to be economically feasible, the machine's memory and processing capacity must be shared simultaneously and independently by many on-line users in such a way as to insure its continuous, efficient exploitation. General-purpose, independent, on-line use of computers by a large number of people has not yet been achieved, but it appears feasible on the basis of recent experiments with time- sharing of large machines.

The computer systems envisioned above should not be regarded as static aggregates of "hardware" and "software," designed and built to meet predetermined requirements. Rather, they should be pi...