Progress made in the development of computerized materials-information systems and current activities are reviewed both at the national level and internationally. Reasons for the lack of full realization of the opportunities offered by modern computers are elaborated and discussed. An intensified need for international collaboration and coordination is indicated. Advanced materials, ceramics, plastics, intermetallic compounds, fibres, and composites, are appearing at an accelerating rate and there is strong demand for quick and reliable computer access to their properties. However, these new materials pose special problems for the data compiler and analyst: the properties and combinations of properties required are often new; there is a marked lack of standardization of materials, properties and test methods; the new materials are often not homogeneous, monolithic and `off-the-shelf', but are rather ad hoc tailored compositions, micro-and macro-scale composite structures with strongly process-related properties; and there is increasing insistence by designers on property values of designated reliability. The challenge is to accumulate data - numeric, tabular and graphic - from diverse sources, convert it to machine-readable form with a harmonized array of metadata descriptors and present the resulting database(s) to the user in a convenient and cost-effective manner.