ArticlesComputers and People

Trends in Computers and Computing: The Information Utility

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Science  18 Mar 1977:
Vol. 195, Issue 4283, pp. 1191-1199
DOI: 10.1126/science.195.4283.1191


Demands for more effective information management, coupled with advances in computer hardware and software technology, have resulted in the emergence of the information utility concept, whereby computers specialized for information storage and processing serve as information nodes. The information nodes, which may be interconnected, can provide information management services to both conventional and personal computers. In this article the key hardware and software components of classical information systems are described to provide background on the requirements for an information utility. Four approaches to the development of specialized information nodes, drawing on various advances in technology, are presented: (i) firmware enhancement, (ii) intelligent controllers, (iii) minicomputer back-end processors, and (iv) highly modular database machines. The benefits of these advances will be systems that are more efficient, reliable, and easy to use.