The Economics of Computers

The Economics of Computers

The Economics of Computers

The Economics of Computers

Excerpt

It is not a simple matter to describe this book. Briefly, it attempts to provide and apply a set of concepts from economic theory that may prove valuable to those who are now or may become decisionmakers in the selection, financing, and/or use of computers. Only theory relevant for such decision-makers is presented here. This means that the effects of computers on the economy as a whole lie outside the scope of this book, as do a number of related issues. We deal, thus, with microeconomic, not macroeconomic, theory: our focus is on the small (industry, firm, computer) and not the large (gross national product, consumer price index, unemployment).

The book is intended to appeal to three groups of readers. First, and of the most immediate importance, are those who now manage or set policy for computer installations. The second group consists of students in programs leading to degrees in computer science (or information science); such programs are becoming widespread and seem destined to remain permanent fixtures on most university campuses. Finally, the book is aimed at economists interested in the computer industry; only a minimal knowledge of computers per se is assumed here, and most of the material of interest to an economist requires no such knowledge.

Although the book has been neither designed nor tested as a textbook, it should prove useful for a one- or two-semester course for computer scientists. As the profession matures, I hope that a course dealing with economic matters would be considered an essential part of the computer science curriculum. Perhaps this book will play a part in gaining acceptance for this view.

The book is written for a reasonably sophisticated audience. The reader is assumed to be familiar with mathematics through introductory calculus. More important, however, is the requirement that the reader be sympathetic to the use of relatively simple but rigorous models for analyzing economic problems confronting computer users and producers. No prior knowledge of economic theory is assumed; such knowledge is an output, not an input.

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