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This paper is intended to familiarize the reader with the many reasons for undertaking the design and implementation of peer networking on small and intermediate business machines such as the IBM System/36 family. Such networking function was recently announced as IBM's Advanced Peer-to-Peer Networking (APPN) on Release 5 of the System/36. This paper sets the stage for a companion paper in this same issue, which discusses the implementation experience and details of the System/36 APPN product. In the present paper, the history of System/36 communication is first reviewed, and it is shown how APPN was a natural evolution from earlier function. Then an extensive study of user requirements that was started in 1982 is summarized. The paper concludes with a brief technical tutorial on the structure of the APPN design.
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