The latter part of the 20th century has witnessed a revolution in computing and related communications technology. As earlier eras witnessed transformations wrought by steam power, internal combustion engines, and electricity, the 1990s have seen the development, elaboration, and diffusion of a general-purpose technology that is transforming society. Computing technology has infiltrated all corners of society, from the workplace and the laboratory to the classroom and the home, changing the way people conduct business, govern, learn, and entertain themselves.
The computer revolution is predicated on 50 years of effort by industry, universities, and government. Together, these entities have created an innovation system that has vastly improved the capabilities of computer-related technologies, from semiconductors to computers, and from software to data communications networks. Real-time, online operating systems, graphical user interfaces, the mouse, the Internet, high-performance computers, and microprocessors are all offspring of the productive interaction among government, universities, and industry in the innovation process. Understanding the interplay among industry, government, and universities in developing new computing technology is an important step in framing both public and private policies that will shape future research activities. As the nation attempts to maintain its leadership in computing, business leaders, policymakers, and university researchers will need to understand the sources of their past success.
This report examines the history of innovation in the field of computing and related communications technologies with emphasis on the role