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In this paper we describe efforts to develop a comprehensive tool for the digital simulation of a wide variety of point-to-point digital communication systems. These efforts have resulted in the interactive communications simulator (ICS); a flexible, graphics-oriented, and highly interactive hardware/software system consisting of a typical minicomputer acting as host to a fast peripheral array processor. This system is presently being employed both to evaluate existing modem performance and to explore new modulation/coding concepts appropriate for military, commercial, and space applications. A detailed functional description of the ICS is provided together with pertinent software considerations. An outline of existing ICS capabilities is presented and illustrated through typical, graphical output. A thorough discussion of channel modeling considerations is provided. The use of the ICS in the overall design of receiver structures for impulsive noise channels will be illustrated.