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Major turning points in civilization may have innocent beginnings, and the progenitor of the contemporary digital computer which was designed by Charles Babbage, a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, England, in the mid-nineteenth century is no exception. This invention heralded the fourth great advance in communication techniques being preceded by speech, writing, and printing. The present status of the art of automatic data processing methods applied to the fields of biology and medicine has been ably summarized by R. S. Ledley in this voluminous "semihandbook" (the author's term) sponsored by the Medical Sciences Division of the National Research Council.
The subject matter is divided into four major parts: 54 pages are devoted to a clear, comprehensive, and elementary description of computers and related background topics; 202 pages are devoted to programming techniques and systems; 240 pages are concerned with applications of computers to biology and medicine; and finally, 430
Barnes BA. Use of Computers in Biology and Medicine.. Arch Intern Med. 1966;118(5):500-502. doi:10.1001/archinte.1966.00290170088018