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To someone with an electronics or computer science background, many of optical computing's concepts may seem outlandish. Optics grew out of applied physics and still retains many aspects of that heritage. This is in contrast to digital computing's roots in electronics. Recent efforts have been made to bring optical computing more in line with microelectronic engineering. Perhaps that will speed the acceptance of opto-electronic technology. The authors describe their research into optical devices for data communication. They are investigating free-space optics, the propagation of optical signals through the air using lenses and mirrors to focus and redirect the beams. The advantages of free-space optics, derive from their large spatial bandwidth and physical channel density. Like the human eye, which takes in an enormous amount of information in parallel, a low-cost lens can provide more than a million independent connections. The authors aim to exploit optoelectronic computing's capability for such massively parallel data transfers.