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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Trans-Canada computer network and its application to point-of-sale and other systems Schuler, Max Michael

Abstract

The divergence between the demands for more effective and more economic data communications media by users of digital computers and the present actual trend of the form of these media as provided by today's common carriers in Canada warrants unprecedented examination. At the heart of this problem is a complex series of interrelated technical and financial issues that are examined in this thesis from the point of view of a manager attempting to gain insight into the nature of a solution. To provide this insight the thesis recapitulates significant historical accomplishments in the areas of data networks, it examines present thinking about the means of economically expanding the nature of what is now considered as time-shared computing, and it reviews developments in applied communications technology and solid-state electronics that are deemed to have an important bearing on a solution to the problem. The basic material was gleamed from technical literature, trade articles, and personal interviews. The thesis applies this insight to a solution of the problem by postulating the effect and mode of operation of a Trans-Canada Computer Network; it points out areas in computer applications that might benefit from such a net and specifically develops the subject of Point-of-Sale systems. Point-of-Sale systems are shown to fall into the areas of either general-purpose time-shared processors or dedicated mini-processor configurations within the framework of today's commercial possibilities. Analysis leads to the suggestion of a multiprocessor approach that would permit highly reliable and economical operation albeit only within the context of a Trans-Canada Computer Network. It is concluded that a net such as proposed would be entirely digital in nature and operate independently from telephone equipment; its manner of sharing data net capacity would complement the operation of present time-sharing computers and be more efficient in the use of data transmission facility; it would extend the concept of time-sharing to small machines and reduce the need for full redundancy in high-reliability systems, thus permitting the Canada-wide use of distributed multiprocessors to be a more common configuration. By enabling computer-speed switching using digital gating rather than electromechanical switching, charges for data link use would be based on access times rather than line capacity, thus becoming more equitable and in all probability lower. The Trans-Canada Computer Network characteristics would provide a common base for data transmission thus essentially pointing the way to a solution of- the machine interconnection problem in the case of dissimilar processors. The case for a specialized data network, then, arises from the inability of existing and to all appearances, planned telephone services to satisfy data user's transmission requirements.

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