High accuracy is what distinguishes measurements made at the world's magnetic observatories from other types of geomagnetic measurements. High accuracy in determining the absolute values of the components of the Earth's magnetic field is essential to studying geomagnetic secular variation and processes at the core mantle boundary, as well as some magnetospheric processes. In some applications of geomagnetic data, precision (or resolution) of measurements may also be important. In addition to accuracy and resolution in the amplitude domain, it is necessary to consider these same quantities in the frequency and space domains. New developments in geomagnetic instruments and communications make real-time, high accuracy, global geomagnetic observatory data sets a real possibility. There is a growing realization in the scientific community of the unique relevance of geomagnetic observatory data to the principal contemporary problems in solid Earth and space physics. Together, these factors provide the promise of a 'renaissance' of the world's geomagnetic observatory system. ?? 1990.