Examines issues regarding projected use of personal computers (PC) for scientific research. The paper describes PC advantages over present shared scientific computational facilities, assessing problems imposed by intercomputer communications, and examines present and near-future hardware and software capabilities and constraints in light of tight cost limits on personal computers. The author concludes that availability of PCs could lead to significantly increased capabilities for many research scientists, and reduce their dependence on organizational affiliations, geographic location, and funding agencies. However, achievement of this goal involves technical and economic problems: secondary storage, display, operating system design, device reliability, and intercomputer communications. The important problem for the 1980s seems to be secondary memory. The critical long-term problem area is economical intercomputer communications.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.