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Many instruments in research laboratories are now operated under varying degrees of computer control, not merely to accumulate and store data, but to obtain information about the sample sooner. The need for the scientist to interact with the computer is then as important as the instrument-computer interaction. This requirement leads to strong differences in implementation between laboratory automation and process control, and also suggests that the scientist must consider his over-all information needs as well as his instrument needs. A control computer shared by several people doing x-ray diffraction and fluorescence work is used as an example to illustrate some of these aspects of laboratory automation.
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