Grognardia has an interesting post about Traveller and Computers here.
Around the mid 80s it began to drive many Traveller fans crazy that it's computers were so limited compared to what was coming out. Most just accepted it as part of the premise but a significant minority developed all kinds of handwave to explain why the Model I/bis was the size it was.
I was part of the just accept it crowd. At that time my vision of an advanced computer was that you ask it question in natural language, and the computer gave you answers. I even did a computer voice that worked nicely.
MP3 of a morning greeting
Something of general use to SciFi RPGs is that computers today come in a large variety of configurations, sizes, and and purposes. While the mainframes of yore are far fewer in number there still exist large sever farms that would not look out place in the imaginations of SF roleplayers in the 80s.
My day job involves programming software to run the metal forming, and metal cutting machines my company manufactures. Computer that are used for control and process applications, like those needed for starships, are often quite specialized. The reason for this is primarily I/O, the computer needs to access a variety of wires each with different electrical characteristics to control different operations. These are not indefinitely flexible. Since much of the limitation of Traveller's computers involves swapping programs that do process and control the size and limitations seem reasonable although on the large size.
In a machine I work on that takes sheets off of a coil of metal and forms them into rectangular tube the computer is a Dell you can buy on-line. But the cabinet it is part of is a 2 1/2 foot cube. The rest of the space in occupied by the wiring needed to connect the computer to the different station along the production line.
Future Tech may shrink this a little, wireless certainly may be able to eliminate some wires. But physics limit how far you can shrink or get rid of some of this stuff safely.
One pieces of technology has eased the wiring situation greatly. That is the PLC or Programmable Logic Controller. Basically it is a box with inputs on one side and outputs on the other. The magic is that you connect the inputs and outputs however you like by downloading a program. Thanks to the ever shrinking CPUs today's PLC programs have all the features of a programming language used for general purpose computers.
A Traveller Starship probably has a crapload of PLCs that offer normal and redundant paths for sensors and controls. Part of the dealing damage to your starship probably involves going into your network of PLCs and downloading programs to reroute functions around the damaged sections of the ship.
My point in relaying this isn't to tell you how to play your sci-fi. But rather in hopes that some ideas will come out of it for your campaigns.
I'm Chicken Shit
1 hour ago