In the sophisticated research laboratory of today, scientists have become increasingly dependent on computers as a means of enhancing and accelerating their investigations. A growing number of lab instruments now rely on a computer for their efficient operation; and the modern lab commonly has numerous other computers scattered about to handle such day-to-day chores as data analysis and report writing.

While the benefits of computers in the lab are clear, incompatibility among devices from a wide array of vendors can make it difficult to take full advantage of their capabilities. Fortunately, some leading hardware and software suppliers-- primarily the manufacturers of workstations--are moving to address the problem.

Linking computers in a lab can definitely boost productivity, but even on the best of networks there's a connectivity hurdle yet to be solved. Let's say, for example, that you've managed to connect the PCs that control two gas chromatographs (GCs) from different...

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