The dominant theme in federal communications policy since the late 1970s has been the effort to inject competition into as many markets as possible. This effort has been the result of efforts by competitors to enter markets once thought natural monopolies. Competition upset the regulatory status quo. But in time regulators generally realized that the wisest public policy was to promote competition in communications, as a way of checking the price of the dominant provider. The first shot for competition arose so innocuously that hardly anyone noticed. The competitive potential of terminal equipment markets is reflected in the fact that there are hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers of modems, terminals, storage devices, front end processors, large and small central processing units, multiplexers, concentrators, and virtually innumerable related devices. Online databases and interactive services have experienced significant growth in the 1980s in both the business and mass market sectors.