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Who am I to say? I was in computers before there were PC's. I am one of those that upgraded to Commodore 64 before there was an IBM PC. I have had IBM compatibles since then, although I did have a MAC running side by side with my 486 PC for awhile sharing an Apple Laserwriter printer.

See My Software Recommendationss

Processor: Pentium 100. Because it is the lower voltage and cooler running of the Pentiums. It is pin compatible with the faster processors and therefore easy to upgrade or replace if burnt least for awhile. The brand is unimportant, but I like the Gateway because it is sturdy and I am incapable of being delicate when I jam in a new expansion card.

Tower or Desktop. I prefer a tower that has more space for adding stuff and more space for better cooling. Add a second fan. A 250 watt power supply might be nice. I have a taller tower for more stuff. I have 5 drive bays on the front and 5 back behind.

Hard Disk Drive: As big as you can afford. The brand is not important, but make sure that if you get two hard drives, they are the same. You would be better off formatting these drives into smaller partitions before you start loading your goodies. Why? Because the bigger the drive the bigger the space that your files take. If you have a 1k file…why have it stored on 32k segments. Keep the partitions under 512Meg and the file segments are only 4k. Bigger is bigger and wastes more space. Defrag you drives regularly. I do it almost daily. I knew a MAC user that thought his machine had died. The bigger the drive and the more stuff you have the more you must defrag. You need to defrag with Win 95 more than with Win 3.1. I have two hard drives so I can do backups from one to the other instead of a slow tape drive.

Floppies: If you want to save a very few bucks, skip the 5 ¼ drive. There isn't much out there that uses them and they take more space than the 3 ½. The 3 ½ is a must to load new software, transport software, etc.

CDROM: Wow what a misnomer. ROM is read only memory. A CD is a disk. What it means is that you have a CD that is read only. It's like having a hard disk drive, but you can insert new disks that store 640 Megabytes. What speed? 8X 12X. What can you afford. If you ever plan to have disks with moving pictures being fed to the screen faster is better. I had a 6X and was perfectly happy with it. It burnt out and Gateway shipped me an 8X to replace it, which arrived the very next day. Since the one year labor warranty was gone, I had to put it in myself…no sweat. Read the directions before you take your tower apart.

Read/Write CDROM or WROM drive. Write once, read many. You can buy CD's for $10 and each stores 640M. Wow. Talk about backup.

Tape Backup. I have had 6 over the years and only once was I able to recover totally from one. My tapes have a tendency to go blank when sitting too near the computer or near anything magnetic. They are far more sensitive than floppies which I have not had much trouble with. I have had a lot of bad sectors on floppies, but was usually able to recover my data with a diskscan. By the way, defrag floppies after 4-5 uses.

Sound. Soundblaster 16 works nice, buy what you can afford. The AWE32 is the current state of the art. Speakers. I am happy with Altec Lansing 40's, but go for Bose with a center base subwoofer if you are really into games. You can hook your sound card to an input on your stereo for the best sound. Why settle for computer speakers and a $10 amplifier if you really want sound.

Printer. Colorjet is the way to go. My HP 682 produces laser quality black and white on draft mode quicker than most laser printers. It does nice color too. Try them out and compare the output. I use a ream of cheap copier paper for every sheet of expensive colorjet paper that I use. I have used high resolution 1 of 600 sheets. Speed with decent quality is more important to me.

Scanner. I love my color scanner. However, your need for ram triples. My system worked great on 16 Meg of EDO 60ms RAM until I got the scanner. By the way. Most scanners require that you insert a circuit card for scanning. Read the directions or take your system in to the dealer. I trust me. When you scan stuff in color like a photograph you will almost never need greater than 200 dpi so don't think you need 2400 dpi. A 4"X6" 35mm photo at 200 dpi on color takes about 3 meg of disk space and 3 meg of memory. If you cut and paste that is 6 meg of memory. Add that to 5 meg of graphics software and you are about out of RAM. Your RAM gets used up and the data has to be swapped out to disk drive…virtual memory if you do not have enough RAM. I recommend at least 48 Meg of RAM for proper use of the scanner.

Monitor. I use a 15" at home due to desk space and a 17" at work. Both are SVGA or better. VGA is fuzzy in comparison.

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