It is quite possible to analyze and compare critically and quantitatively computing machines of different types with the purpose of making an optimum decision for their selection. The procedure is well known: define purpose and requirements of application, investigate capabilities and limitations of the machines, study the problems of operation and maintenance, investigate the cost situation, finally weigh all these factors carefully one against the other and make the decision. However, in many cases it will be very difficult and even impossible to define all these factors clearly and quantitatively and the successful analyst will have to rely on his intuition. And, of course, this intuition must be based on his knowledge and understanding of the working principles of the computing machines. The attempt to provide such an understanding in this book may be facilitated by the fact that the available space is restricted. This allows to concentrate on the essential characteristics, to point them out bluntly and even to accept the dangers of over-statements, if they help to form a clear basic concept. The complexity and flexibility of modern large scale computers justify such an approach even more. A sound judgment in problem fringe areas can be based only on a clear basic concept.
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