From Electronic Life:
Interest in personal computers has usually focused on the individual's use of a so-called stand-alone machine. But within a few years, this may be less important than the fact that uses around the country can be linked together over phone lines in a network.
What's the advantage over simply making a call? Voice transmission is excellent for conveying emotional states, or limited amounts of hard data. But if you have ever listened as someone described a graphic image over the phone, you quickly realized that a picture is worth much more than a thousand words. And if anyone has tried to engage you in a complex discussion involving a lot of text or a great many figures, you probably found yourself postponing the conversation until you had a copy of the information in front of you. Furthermore, telephone calls must be arranged at a time suited to both parties. And you cannot just "put the information out there"; you must call a particular person.
Computer networks have none of these disadvantages. You can transmit text or graphics at your convenience; the receiver can review the information at his. You can put information out onto a network "bulletin board" and whoever is interested (including people you don't know) can pick it up and use it, and communicate back to you.
Computer conferencing and specialized user groups of all sorts are springing up. Small computers may ultimately be as ubiquitous as telephones, because they are as useful as telephones - for communicating with other people.