Advanced Intelligent Terminals as a User's Network Interface

by Robert H. Anderson

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Computer networks are creating a serious problem: increasing numbers of users can access a variety of different information systems. These different information systems have very little in common. They were built for different communities of users, by different groups of programmers, to run on different hardware configurations, and with very different protocols for man/machine interaction. Also, the network itself may require login procedures and access protocols. This paper discusses a proposed solution to this proliferation of interfaces, protocols, and systems: the use of advanced intelligent terminals which, as one of their capabilities, assist a user in interacting with external systems. We assume that within five to eight years, interactive terminals will contain built-in computing power equivalent to today's minicomputers at very modest cost. We present an overview of the types of services that might be provided by an intelligent terminal within five years, and briefly describe current RAND research aimed at developing a prototype of such a system.

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