Computer consultant equips $5,000 home office – Private Interventions for Public People is outfitted by Innovative Computer Systems – The Shopper – Column

Stephen J. Roux

Clinical Psychologist Is

Counseled on Getting the

Most out of His Budget

As the owner of Innovative Computer Systems, a hardware-and-software-consulting firm in Avon, Connecticut, I have had many clients who found a “bargain” based on price alone and ended up needing a new machine the next year. Instead of paying a little extra up front for the additional power, they had to pay a lot more to upgrade in the end. With the thousands of hardware and software options now available, finding the right combination requires some time and technical knowledge. If you don’t have the time or experience, your best bet may be to hire someone who does.

Robert W. Deutsch, a clinical psychologist and president of Private Interventions for Public People, a West Hartford, Connecticut, substance-abuse intervention and prevention consulting firm, is one of my clients. His original system consisted of a Sharp 7221 286 luggable and a Citizen dotmatrix printer, which he used primarily for correspondence and a little accounting.

Deutsch wanted to write and design marketing presentations for his business. He needed to promote a professional image in order to attract upscale clients. He contacted me because he needed help with equipment purchases, setup, installation, and maintenance.

In our first meeting, we discussed his plans for future growth, as well as ways he could use technology to streamline his business. Deutsch wanted to computerize marketing, accounting, and client tracking. We calculated a budget of $5,000 and began to discuss software.


We chose a graphical user interface as the main platform for all applications. The ease of use and smooth integration between most software packages made Microsoft Windows 3.0 our first choice. I also suggested he buy the Microsoft Office, a bundle of software that included Word for Windows, Excel for Windows, and PowerPoint, three of Microsoft’s most popular Windows applications. At the time, the bundle retailed for $750 ($200 less than they’d cost if purchased separately). I was able to get Deutsch an even lower price of $275. (The Microsoft Office now also includes Microsoft Mail, an electronic-mail application.)

He bought most of his software from the Tiger Software mail-order catalog and Computer Center of Canton, a local computer store.

Deutsch’s complete software shopping list included the following:

Microsoft Windows 3.0,

with Microsoft Mouse $150

DOS 5.0 $75

Microsoft Office $275

Personal R:Base (database) $120

Microsoft Publisher $160

ONKA Desktop Set (calendar/planner) $80



I suggested he invest in the 33-MHz 386 Business Veisa IBM compatible, manufactured by Advanced Logic Research. The CPU is upgradable to a 50-MHz 486, ensuring compatibility for year to come. There are six expansion slots and four drive bays, and the memory can be expanded up to 49MB. If Deutsch wants increased speed, he can purchase the ALR Cache Pak ($600 retail), which adds 64K of 25-ns static RAM. Many other manufacturers offer similar machines at a lower price. But few offer as flexible an upgrade path. The system came loaded with 5MB of RAM, a 120MB hard-disk drive, a 14-inch Goldstar 1460 Plus VGA monitor, a Cardinal VGA card, and an Intel Satisfaxtion fax board, all for $3,200.

The Intel Satisfaxtion fax board offers 9600-bps faxing and 2400-bps MNP 5 modem capabilities, so Deutsch can use his laser printer as a plain-paper fax. He wanted a laser printer with multiple fonts; I suggested the Okidata OL820 Laser Printer ($1,400) with eight-page-per-minute printing and PostScript capability.

Deutsch’s complete hardware list: 386 IBM-compatible computer system $3,200 Okidata OL820 Laser Printer $1,400 TOTAL HARDWARE COSTS $4,600

Deutsch’s total hardware and software costs came to $5,460, which exceeded his original budget by $460. He thinks the added features and upgrading options are well worth the initial investment.



If you don’t have access to a qualified consultant, ask your friends and associates for advice. Sharing information with others in your profession is a good way to learn what hardware and software options are available. (On the recommendation of a colleague, Deutsch visited the Computer Center of Canton, liked the service, and felt secure with the knowledgeable sales staff. Another associate suggested he try Tiger Software).

There will always be something new that runs faster and has more storage capacity. The key is to start out one step ahead of your current needs in order to protect your investment for as long as possible.

STEPHEN J. ROUX is the owner of Innovative Computer Systems, a computer-consulting firm that specializes in assisting home-office workers in the Hartford, Connecticut, area.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Freedom Technology Media Group

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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