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In the late 1960s computers were mainly very big (room size) and expensive, and were mainly used by wealthy organisations for large-scale commercial data processing and scientific calculations, though the first minicomputers were starting to appear in well-funded laboratories. Since then not just one, but rather many, types of software industry have come into existence, in particular those that design or tailor "bespoke" software for particular clients and environments, and those that produce "of-the-peg" software packages that are sold to thousands or even millions of customers. Among the many looming technical developments that were discussed enthusiastically at the NATO conferences, two that now stand out as still of great interest and constituting a considerable challenge are software components and software development environments. A third technical development that was already under way in the late 1960s, though less prominent at the conferences, was that of multiprocessor design - a technical challenge that has been revitalised by the arrival of multi-core processor chips.