This article is from the Sacramento FAQ, by David F. Prenatt, Jr. with numerous contributions by others.
10.1) Basic Questions About Computers.
I have attempted to answer some basic questions about computers in
this section. However, the best place to get answers for your
computer questions is from your own Internet service provider (ISP).
10.1.1) Why should I use a computer?
It is easier and faster to accomplish certain tasks by using a
10.1.1.1) Do I really need to use a computer?
No. You don't need to use a computer, but many tasks are impossible
to accomplish without a computer.
10.1.1.2) Isn't it difficult to learn how to use a computer?
No. Learning to use a computer is very easy, but this is a very well
kept secret because many people who know how to use computers are very
intimidating to people who do not know how to use them.
10.1.1.3) How can I get the computer training that I need?
Admit your ignorance, both to yourself and to the people who offer you
help. Teaching people how to use computers is extremely difficult,
but it doesn't have to be that way. Many people erroneously assume
that they understand how computers work, and this makes teaching these
people extremely difficult. Of course, people who are technically
proficient may not be able to communicate with you or they may not be
interested in helping you. Avoid these people.
The Sacramento PC Users Group provides instruction and support
for people learning to use PC computers. For more information,
readers with a web browser may visit the Sacramento PC Users Group
Home Page on the World Wide Web (<http://www.sacpcug.org >).
10.1.1.4) What practical uses would I have for a computer?
Within the last ten years, the number of practical applications for
personal computers has mushroomed to the point where anyone who is not
computer literate is at a serious disadvantage in the competitive
worlds of education and commerce. Computer games were the original
hook for most consumers, and word processing has since emerged as the
most popular practical application for end users. As useful as these
applications are, however, they are little more than flotsam when
compared with the phenomenal software vessels that sail the vast ocean
of computer technology. But don't take my word for it: Stop by any
store that sells computer software and do some window shopping.
10.1.2) Do I need my own computer?
No. Computers are as ubiquitous as telephones. The only reason you
would want to own your own computer is for personal convenience, much
like owning a cellular phone.
10.1.2.1) What kind of a computer should I buy?
You should buy a computer with the features that you want at a price
you can afford. If you are reading this FAQ for a recommendation,
then you probably want a Macintosh(r) or an IBM/IBM Clone (PC).
10.1.2.1.1) What is the difference between a Macintosh(r) and an IBM/IBM
Macintosh(r) computers are much higher quality technology than IBM
technology. However, IBM is the standard for computer technology and
is much more affordable than Macintosh(r). Thus, if you are on a
limited budget, you probably want an IBM/IBM clone, especially because
whatever you do buy will be obsolete when you buy it.
10.1.2.1.2) What is an IBM clone?
IBM buys its technology on the open market and sets the standard for
other computer companies (at least it used to do so). Many companies
build IBM clones (properly referred to as PCs) that meet or exceed
IBM's standards (i.e., 100% IBM Compatible).
10.1.2.2) What kind of features should I have on a computer?
There is no easy answer to this question, but as a general rule buy
only proven technology and avoid all the bells and whistles. New
technology is inherently unreliable because many bugs are found only
after a product has been released. Try out a variety of computers and
find out for yourself what features are the most useful and reliable.
10.1.2.3) What kind of accessories should I get on my computer?
It depends upon what type of applications you are using. If you are
reading this FAQ for a recommendation, then you probably only need a
modem and/or a printer.