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April 25, 1986

The Retrieval of Medical Literature

Author Affiliations

Strategic Intelligence Corporation Sharon, Mass and University of Paris

JAMA. 1986;255(16):2159. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370160055011

To the Editor.—  Although full-text medical literature retrieval by computer, as described by Drs Collen and Flagle,1 is a welcome addition to medical informatics, there are several problems that should be nipped in the bud. Mostly, these involve the distinction between the terms availability of a data base and distribution of a data base.The concept of a large, central computer system, time-sharing to many remote users, directly contradicts the modern philosophy of distributed processing, ie, one person, one processor. On top of this, the drastic drop in the price of random access memory and the drop in price per megabyte of hard-disk subsystems are bringing the capacity to handle large data bases to the common user. While it is obvious that the entire MEDIS data base could not be managed by a microcomputer, and while hard-disk subsystems and large-system memories are not ubiquitous yet, it is clear that