Approximately 75% of all metalworking manufacture in the United States is in small lot batches and that percentage is expected to increase in the future. In the usual batch-type production shop, a typical part in process spends only about 5% of its time on production machines and of that 5%, only about 30% is actually spent as productive time in shaping the part. Obviously, both the rewards and the potential for increased productivity and efficiency of batch manufacture in the future are very great indeed. How are these rewards and this potential to be realized? It is quite evident that application of the digital computer to online automation and optimization of batch manufacture holds great promise for doing this. The reason for such is that the computer provides, for the first time in history, a means for automating the software component of batch manufacture - the automatic handling of the information flow and the moment-by-moment analysis, planning and control of manufacturing operations. It is the lack of this very capability - the dependency on `manual' manipulation of the software component - that accounts for the highly inefficient situation noted above. To realize this potential of the computer requires a wholly new approach to both the software and the hardware components of manufacture - a systems approach, to bring into being what may be called the computer-integrated manufacturing system. Such a new approach to the combined hardware and software of batch manufacture will require the combination and exploitation, on a systems engineering basis, of many currently embryonic new aspects of manufacturing technology, such as direct numerical control, multi-station manufacturing systems, group technology or cellular manufacture and integrated manufacturing software systems. A Delphi-type technological forecast recently completed by the C.I.R.P. throws some light on the likelihood and timing of the realization of the computer-integrated manufacturing system. According to this forecast, the probability of this approach being operational and well along toward general use by the 1980s is very high.