Discusses the theoretical limits on computing speed, and the probable costs and value of achieving them. The largest computers are now approaching 100 million operations per second. While cooling requirements limit the ultimate attainable speed, improved components will probably increase computer speed by 20 to 50 times. Parallel computer architecture should add another hundredfold. Thus, it is neither impossible nor unreasonable to build a computer at least 1000 and perhaps 10,000 times faster than the best yet designed. Such computers could address problems too complex for present solution--accurate storm predictions, environmental and ecological effects, disarmament photoinspection, remote planetary exploration via real-time image processing, biological and social systems. At a possible cost of $200-300 million--half of one Apollo flight, 1/20th of the interstate highway system--their development would be a "best buy" for society. (Published in IEEE Spectrum, March 1972.)
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