The development of communications technology is, in a sense, a symbol of man's effort to communicate rapidly over great distances. Communications technology is older than computer technology. It has grown as rapidly as the computer technology in recent times. These two technologies are now fusing into what Anthony Oettinger has called 'compunications'. This newly emergent technology is changing our life styles as few technologies have before. This new technology has probable and important uses in the home, office, factory, community and in information exchange system and holds prospects of immediate relevance to information profession. Some of the significant aspects of information transmission technology are discussed briefly in the following paragraphs.
A communication system can establish paths over which messages can be sent between any two instruments in specified locations at desired times. This type of system is generally known as switched .network.' Communications technology has advanced to the extent that now it is possible to hire services from a commercially operated network. Hence, there is a steady growth of computer-to-computer data traffic. Also, computer manufactures are offering network architectures which together offer multiple operating systems running on families of similar computers. A terminal of a computer network may have access to any of the computers within the network, if it is authorised to do so. A computer serves as a terminal when connected for providing computation, information retrieval, etc., in accordance with the request of the terminal. A multi-lateral access capability allows the users of the terminal to share these resources. Such networks are characterised by a new technique known as packet switching in which the message is divided into a number of message blocks called packets and are transmitted between nodes in store and forward basis. Among the information resources to be shared are the data bases. A number of information systems have come into operation based on this concept.