Science: Party-Line Computers

For all their forbidding, mechanical bulk, the intricate electronic computers that control so much of U.S. science and industry are often sociable contraptions. Like the human beings who built them, they occasionally succumb to a compulsive need for communication with others of their own kind. Faced with a problem that seems too tough to solve, one computer is perfectly capable of seeking help from another.

Unable to complete its assigned task, a small, provincial computer may send an electronic S O S to a big brother in an other city — provided it has already been connected to its collaborator by coaxial...

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