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Microprocessor technology has permitted the development of a General Earthquake-Observation System (GEOS) useful for most seismic applications. Central-processing-unit control via robust software of system functions that are isolated on hardware modules permits field adaptability of the system to a wide variety of active and passive seismic experiments and straightforward modification for incorporation of improvements in technology. Various laboratory tests and numerous deployments of a set of the systems in the field have confirmed design goals, including: wide linear dynamic range (16 bit/96 dB); broad bandwidth (36 hr to 600 Hz; greater than 36 hr available); selectable sensor-type (accelerometer, seismometer, dilatometer); selectable channels (1 to 6); selectable record mode (continuous, preset, trigger); large data capacity (1. 4 to 60 Mbytes); selectable time standard (WWVB, master, manual); automatic self-calibration; simple field operation; full capability to adapt system in the field to a wide variety of experiments; low power; portability; and modest costs. System design goals for a microcomputer-controlled system with modular software and hardware components as implemented on the GEOS are presented. The systems have been deployed for 15 experiments, including: studies of near-source strong motion; high-frequency microearthquakes; crustal structure; down-hole wave propagation; teleseismicity; and earth-tidal strains.