The advent of microelectronics, and specifically the microcomputer, has opened up field data collection to include long-term untended applications not previously possible. This paper touches upon two of several field data collection possibilities─load data analysis and fatigue life estimation─and describes typical uses for each.In load data analysis, test engineers are basically interested in determining how their equipment reacts to field forces. This gives them an invaluable data base for future designs.In fatigue life estimation the emphasis is on the life span of critical components in field operation. Time correlation is unimportant in the algorithm which monitors stress-strain response of a material to external forcing. By a process of summation the percentage of fatigue life consumed during the test can be determined.Spiraling costs of doing business, keener competition and costly regulations all combine to underscore the growing need for long-term, untended field data collection. Increasingly, microelectronic technology will bring more capability to this extension of an old engineering discipline.