BITNET, a US interuniversity telecommunications system, began operations in 1981. It was followed by the Canadian NORTHNET (1983) and the European EARN (1984). These systems permit interactive mailing of messages, data and texts. Their diffusion has been extremely fast along both time and space, and most research-based universities will soon be covered. The work of scientists and researchers could be dramatically changed, as such university-wide systems become integrated with other information systems and data bases.