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Software implementation for automatic test systems controlled by minicomputers can be a costly and time-consuming process. A procedure for implementing software which tends to minimize costs and avoid delays caused by unexpected problems is described. The procedure consists of completely defining the test system functions and performing a series of hardware versus software tradeoffs during the design and implementation process. The purpose of the tradeoffs is to determine the least costly method of implementing tester functions by either hardware, software, or some combination of hardware and software. Delays caused by unexpected problems are reduced by including hardware and software debugging aids which shorten the time to validate the tester system functions. An example of implementing an automatic test system in accordance with these procedures is provided.