mained essential in supporting long-term research and efforts to build large systems. The computing industry has advanced at an astonishing rate, driven by competition and commercial reward. Research—funded by the government and privately—has made that remarkable progress possible.

Policymakers attempting to develop sound science and technology policies and promote the continued vitality of the computing industry can find useful guidance in history. The explorations of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark suggest an analogy. They drew on numerous stories told by others, including native Americans and fur traders, who had tentatively explored the lands west of the Mississippi. From these histories they imaginatively created with broad brush strokes a picture of the frontier and prepared for the host of contingencies that they might encounter. So, too, can the stories contained in the case studies in this report provide illustrations to help policymakers address the challenges they face as computing enters the next millennium.


  • 1.  

    A variety of other federal policies have shaped the computer industry and influenced computing research. These include enforcement of antitrust laws, patent policy and intellectual property protection more generally, and assistance in developing technical standards. The granting of a monopoly to AT&T in the telephone industry exerted great influence on research in communications. DOE has also stimulated advances in high-performance computing through procurement of supercomputers. This report focuses on federal research funding, not because these other factors are not important, but because of the range of public policy issues currently surrounding federal research investments (see Chapter 1).

  • 2.  

    This estimate is based on an analysis of patent citations in the computing field conducted specifically for this project by Francis Narin and Anthony F. Breitzman at CHI Research, Inc., Haddon Heights, N.J.

  • 3.  

    The lessons implicit in the SAGE project can be compared to the learning experiences associated with the construction of the Erie Canal early in the 19th century. Engineers then referred to the Erie as the leading engineering school in the United States.

  • 4.  

    The degree of trust between office or program managers and the research community was facilitated by the many common bonds they shared. In the 1960s and 1970s, Licklider, Sutherland, and Roberts, for example, all had ties to MIT.

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