data are limited in that they reflect patenting behavior only during a recent 2-year period. Nevertheless, they suggest that federally sponsored research—especially that conducted at universities—continues to contribute to innovation in computing even as the computer industry has grown.
As this chapter demonstrates, the federal government has played an important role in helping to create the research infrastructure needed to support the nation's computing industry. The federal government became the primary source of funding for university research in computer science and electrical engineering and for research equipment in these disciplines. It also became the primary supporter of graduate students studying—and conducting research—in these fields. Such support complemented industry's efforts to build the much larger industrial infrastructure needed for successful innovation in computing and industry's contributions to public infrastructure (through equipment grants, tuition reimbursement, and sponsored research). Together, these investments created a publicly available pool of resources for others to draw upon. As subsequent chapters of this report describe in more detail, people with ideas and training made possible by public investments in research infrastructure helped staff the information revolution, disseminate its ideas, and chart its course. As part of the larger innovation process, they helped the nation to establish a dominant position in the international market for computing technology and to enjoy resulting social and economic benefits.