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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), a process to automate the exchange of information traditionally transmitted via trade documents, is examined. Trade documents include such administrative forms as: purchase orders, invoices, price lists, and bills of lading, among others. Currently, this type of information is transmitted by mail, courier, telephone or telex. The advantages of automating this information exchange are discussed. The major problem in accomplishing this automation is the total lack of consistency in end user document types, structure and format. This is compounded by the variety of data storage techniques and equipment, and the availability of suitable communication networks. Progress in overcoming these obstacles is outlined, with examples, for a publicly available electronic data interchange service.