What you need in a computer to use it on the Internet.

19 August 1998 New Technology comes out everyday so this document is already outdated. But it may help you to better understand your choices.

Dear Sir,

I have listed the options you will need in a computer system to allow you to do e-mail and computerize your office. In shopping for a computer you need to decide how much you desire to spend. Each vendor will encourage you to buy whatever their favorite is. Places like Best Buy or Circuit City have packages geared specifically to giving you access to the Internet. This is good, it includes a modem that will let you connect your computer to the telephone line for telecommunications. Most computer packages today include the operating system and the software. They also provide classes on how to use the operating system and some of the software packages that are on your computer.

A Computer shop or friend can also set you up with a computer built from quality parts. These computers are fully functional and their price appears excellent until you price the cost of the software packages you need. If you know exactly what software you will use then this option will get you a better quality computer.

Please be aware that “friends” usually provide you with excellent hardware but unless they give you the original computer diskettes with serial numbers and the manuals you may not have legal rights to use the software. I see a lot of software sharing and have not heard of any private individuals suffering indictment but I did read that Texas A&M’s Engineering School paid out $50,000 for software licensing infringements.

If you are accepting business calls on one phone line you should consider an answering machine that will accept incoming voice or fax messages and hook the computer and the fax up to it. If reading the Business Commerce or checking your stocks via the Internet daily becomes a lifestyle you need to be aware of an ISDN phone line that provides multiple modes of communication at a much faster rate over one phone line. With an ISDN hook up you could leave the computer, fax and telephone hooked up all day long and use all three at the same time. The monthly charge on an ISDN line is not prohibitive but the installation cost can be. Your phone company can answer all your questions about this.

Use this list of parts to specify the lowest acceptable components you will want in a computer before you buy it.

Make a choice between MacIntosh and Personal Computers or PCs:

The new iMac has just been released with a suite of office software. It is fully Internet ready, is a single unit and it selling for under $1350.00. I like it.
MacIntosh is the brand most often used by graphic artists. Most models are more expensive than PCs but are capable of the hardware requirements of big graphics programs.
PCs are more affordable sometimes and are the most popular for office type applications. There are more PC technicians out there than their are Mac technician. That is going to change now that Comp USA has become a MacIntosh distributor.
With the release of Windows 95 the look of the operating system is similar to the look on a MacIntosh. If you need to be able to share files with other people you will probably want a PC. If you are afraid of computers you will probably want a MacIntosh. For example, my 75 year old father who has never used a computer before in his life has just bought my nephews MacIntosh and is sending me e-mail.

Whichever brand of computer you buy be sure to ask about warrantys and service. With the Internet the temptation to download free software eventually fills up your hard drive and can even introduce programs that interfere with other programs causing problems. Having a computer technician nearby can be reassuring. Before buying from a computer shop ask how long they have been in business, how many technicians they have and how long a wait if you bring your computer in for repairs.

PC Computer:

– Pentium Processor at least 266 MHz (megahertz) speed.
MMX means the processor is enhanced for multimedia, this will allow multimedia software to operate a little faster.

– 32 megabytes of RAM minimum, 64 or more would be better (especially if it is a MMX processor).

– 2 Gigabyte size hard drive or larger

– Video card with 2 MB Ram

– Sound card
Many of the newer “Mother Boards” can have sound and video built into them leaving card slots open for unique hardware applications.

– 3.5″ floppy disk drive

– 24x speed CD-ROM disk drive

– SVGA 17″ Monitor, or a 15″ if you can’t afford the 17″
The pitch rating of 0.28mm aperture grade mask (horizontal dot pitch or pixel pitch) is acceptable. Sizes smaller than this 0.27mm or 0.26mm pitch provide even better resolution, but usually cost more. Prices have come down drastically on monitors, try to view the image before choosing one.

– Keyboard

– Mouse

– Speaker(s) (80 watts is probably too much)

– 56 KBps (Kilo bytes per second) baud modem (you can also get a fax modem to send faxes)

Operating System: DOS with Microsoft Windows 95
Windows 98 has come out and I have heard good and bad reports on it. It should be satisfactory on a stand alone computer. I would not recommend it for a computer that will be used on a network.

Microsoft Office 97 – word processor = MS Word; spreadsheet = MS Excell; presentations = powerpoint; database = MS Access

Printer: Hewlett Packard Laser Jet Plus or newer model if business documents have to be smudge proof. An Ink Jet can print color as well as excellent quality black text, but if you touch it before it is dry it will smudge, after it is dry it is as good as a laser jet as long as you don’t get it wet. Consider a Canon or Epson only if their Dealer lives nearby. Get extra Toner Cartridges (you always seem to need a new one in the middle of printing something important)

Internet Service Provider: Read the document “How to find and Internet Service Provider” at This also provides the questions you need to ask them about their service. They need to provide at least one modem per 10 customers, have at least a 56,000 bytes per second speed modem hook up and full access to the Internet. National suppliers such as Sprint, MCI and GTE also offer Internet packages along with their long distance service. MCI had the most local phone numbers in cities in the United States the last time I did my research for a minister that travels constantly and uses his laptop to collect his e-mail everyday.

Specific questions can be sent to Phebe by e-mail at [email protected]

For any corrections please contact the webmaster

Mertes Internet Ministries
College Station, TX 77845
[email protected]

This page last updated: 8/19/98