Browse Prior Art Database

The Social Impact: Excerpts from "The Computer Utility and the Community"42

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129739D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 3 page(s) / 19K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

R. M. Fano: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

R.M. Fano (Portions reprinted, with permissions from IEEE Int'l Convention Record. Part 12,1967, pp. 30-34. 01967 IEEE. ) The development of time-sharing systems was motivated at the start by the narrower objective of creating for several people the illusion of having a private computer at their disposal. The technique involved amounts, in essence, to the rapid-time-division multiplexing of a central processor among several users, each operating on-line from a teletypewriter or other suitable terminal. The technique itself dates back to the early 50s, and was used in the SAGE air defense system. What is new in the various time-sharing systems developed since 1960 is that they are general-purpose systems, and thus they permit a number of people to do simultaneously totally unrelated work. Experience has shown that the value of these general-purpose systems far transcends that originally envisioned. To the professional programmer, it is the availability at one's fingertips of facilities for editing, compiling, debugging, and running programs in one continuous dialogue with the computer that has proved to be of greatest value. As a result, programmers are encouraged to he more imaginative in their work and to investigate new programming techniques and new problem approaches because of the much smaller penalty for failure. Still, the most significant effect of these time- sharing systems is seen in the achievements of persons for whom computers are tools for other objectives. They have not only changed the way problems are attacked, but also have stimulated important research in various fields -- research which would not have been undertaken otherwise. It is these unexpected benefits that are responsible for the current popularity of time-sharing systems and for the present impetus towards the development of more powerful and reliable systems, capable of serving large communities in the manner of ";computer utilities."; The complex of recent developments centered around time-sharing systems and aimed at the exploitation of man-machine interaction is, in the view of many, the most exciting current trend in the computer field, and the one with the most far- reaching implications to each of us as an individual and to society as a whole. [Figure containing following caption omitted: More than half of the current system commands in the Compatible Time-Sharing System at MIT were developed by system users rather than by the system programmers.]

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 34% of the total text.

Page 1 of 3

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

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

The Social Impact: Excerpts from "The Computer Utility and the Community"42

R. M. Fano

R.M. Fano (Portions reprinted, with permissions from IEEE Int'l Convention Record. Part 12,1967, pp. 30-34. 01967 IEEE. )

The development of time-sharing systems was motivated at the start by the narrower objective of creating for several people the illusion of having a private computer at their disposal. The technique involved amounts, in essence, to the rapid-time-division multiplexing of a central processor among several users, each operating on-line from a teletypewriter or other suitable terminal. The technique itself dates back to the early 50s, and was used in the SAGE air defense system. What is new in the various time-sharing systems developed since 1960 is that they are general-purpose systems, and thus they permit a number of people to do simultaneously totally unrelated work. Experience has shown that the value of these general- purpose systems far transcends that originally envisioned. To the professional programmer, it is the availability at one's fingertips of facilities for editing, compiling, debugging, and running programs in one continuous dialogue with the computer that has proved to be of greatest value. As a result, programmers are encouraged to he more imaginative in their work and to investigate new programming techniques and new problem approaches because of the much smaller penalty for failure. Still, the most significant effect of these time- sharing systems is seen in the achievements of persons for whom computers are tools for other objectives. They have not only changed the way problems are attacked, but also have stimulated important research in various fields -- research which would not have been undertaken otherwise. It is these unexpected benefits that are responsible for the current popularity of time-sharing systems and for the present impetus towards the development of more powerful and reliable systems, capable of serving large communities in the manner of "computer utilities." The complex of recent developments centered around time-sharing systems and aimed at the exploitation of man-machine interaction is, in the view of many, the most exciting current trend in the computer field, and the one with the most far- reaching implications to each of us as an individual and to society as a whole.

(Image Omitted: More than half of the current system commands in the Compatible Time- Sharing System at MIT were developed by system users rather than by the system programmers.)

Some of the most interesting, yet imponderable results of current experimentation with time- sharing systems concern their interaction with the community of users. There is little doubt that this interaction is strong, but its character and the underlying reasons are still po...