Current technological developments suggest that in the very near future all medical imaging modalities will have been converted to digitally based systems requiring no film or other intermediate media for either data recording or information storage. However, the full potential of medical imaging to diagnostic medicine will be realized only with the integration of the various imaging modalities into a single unified imaging system. Clearly the computer, and in particular, distributed computer systems, will play a central and unifying role in all future medical imaging systems. This paper outlines the architecture of a particular distributed system for the acquisition, processing, and filing of medical images produced by several different imaging modalities. Although the system is based in part on digital optical disc technology, other storage technologies could also be adopted. Methods for the standardization and unification of the various imaging modalities will be described. This unification is centered on key computer, microprocessor, and communication elements. The picture or image base is managed by a superior data base which permits user-oriented hierarchical access to data and related pictures. Separated hardware levels are provided for management, control, and signal processing. The processing level is equipped with image processors based on unified modular architecture. This paper also describes a possible historical scenario indicating how the integration of the various imaging modalities might be accomplished. The scenario begins with ultrasound, continues with CT, NMR, and nuclear medicine imaging, and concludes with digital radiography.