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Computer processing of medical signals for patient testing has emphasized the role of the data acquisition system. Highly standardized medical data acquisition systems are now required for use with computer processing. This paper discusses analog, digital, and hybrid acquisition systems for use with various computer systems and acquisition site environments. The tradeoffs for on-line and off-line processing and signal transmission are reviewed. Modular construction is required to meet the reliability requirements of clinicians and community health programs. Maintainability by personnel available to the user, that is, equipment operators and not necessarily highly skilled electronic technicians, is also discussed.