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The notion of `time sharing' a computer dominated the intellectual developments in the computer business for somewhat more than a decade, starting with MIT's Project MAC, and paralleled by developments other places (such as JOSS at Rand).
In the late 1950s and very early 1960s it became increasingly clear that it was (intellectually) highly productive to allow people to interact directly with machines. During the 1950s, as computers became more widespread, access was both inconvenient and highly restricted. Time sharing represented an attempt to take advantage of the economy of scale inherent (then) in large computers and divide it up into `pieces' which could be then handed out to individuals so they could interact directly. At the same time, communications technology was improving enough to allow access from sites that were physically at a distance from the computers (i.e. sites that couldn't reach the machine by a direct cable).
By the 1970s the economics of the industry had changed enough so that it was possible to concieve of `personal computers', and this proved to be superior technology. But from the early 1960s thru the middle 1970s, Time Sharing provided individual access to computing power, and represented an important stage in the process of making computer power available to a wide audience.
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