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November 3, 1978

CLINFO: a friendly computer from NIH

JAMA. 1978;240(19):2037-2040. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290190015007

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If your spouse doesn't understand you, there's always a bartender to listen to your troubles. But who do you turn to when you can't communicate with your computer?

Complaints about uncomprehending computers come especially from physicians and other medical scientists lacking fluency in the mathematical and logical language of computer programming. Happily, however, some people—including computer scientists working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—are listening.

Furthermore, reports the NIH's Division of Research Resources, six years' work with Rand Corp, Santa Monica, Calif, has produced a "friendly" minicomputer called CLINFO (a contraction of "clinical information") which requires little experience, training, or help from computer experts. The new computer has been tried out at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; and the University of Washington, Seattle. Thirty more of these minicomputers will be placed in NIH-supported clinical research centers in the next three years.

Oscar B. Crofford, MD,