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This article describes the initial phase of the development of a high-level programming system for robotic manipulation with a scanning probe microscope (SPM). A SPM server has been developed, which runs in the WINDOWS environment of the PC that controls the microscope. Client programs running on Unix work stations or other computers connected to the Internet can send remote commands to the SPM through the server. The clients can be sophisticated artificial intelligence programs that reason about robotic tasks and sensory data acquired by the SPM. A first set of intermediate-level commands has also been developed for sensing and manipulation. The system is being tested by pushing colloidal gold nanoparticles with dimensions in the order of 15–30 nm on a mica substrate in noncontact atomic force microscope mode. The test programs image the sample, search for nanoparticles in the presence of thermal drift, turn feedback on and off for pushing, and so on. The particles are being moved reliably. © 1997 American Vacuum Society.