Computers: Feedback: Help wanted to face 21st century

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The Independent Online
Mrs Catherine Boenders, of Norfolk, wrote to us:

'Your knowledge of computers appears formidable. Can I enlist your help?

I want to purchase something to replace my portable typewriter but don't know the difference between a word-processor and a computer. Salesmen in places like Dixons fill me with dread: I am nearly 70 and trying to face up bravely to the 21st century.

Good information storage is essential as well as sensible screens. Also I don't want to have to throw it out in a year's time because it is obsolete.

Reasons for purchase:

1. To keep the Residents' Association from falling into anarchy

2. To advise the city council that we are not happy about their efforts on our behalf.

3. To write the annual rude letter to the bank.'

We have replied privately to Mrs Boenders, but other readers may have relevant views or experience. In the mean time, there are several signs that the market is maturing into one in which computers become comprehensible gadgets which do useful things simply.

Olivetti has announced that one of its new range of PCs for the home will also function as a television. And Amstrad, which did as much as any British company to bring useful computers to the masses with its PCW range, has bought mail-order PC specialist Viglen.

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