This paper discusses approaches taken over many years to achieve very high loading levels in axial-flow compressors. These efforts have been associated predominantly with aircraft turbine engines. The objective has been to reduce the size and weight of the powerplant, to increase its simplicity and ruggedness, and, whenever possible, to reduce cost. In the introduction, some fundamentals are reviewed that indicate that increased work per stage can only be obtained at a cost of increased Mach number, increased diffusion, or both. The earliest examples cited are some ambitious development programs of the 1950s and 1960s. Some innovative schemes to increase diffusion limits are described that took place in the 1960s and 1970s. Major advancements in dealing with higher Mach number were made in the 1980s. Finally, a few thoughts directed toward potential future developments are presented.

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