Education And Debate

ABC of Medical Computing: CHOOSING A COMPUTER SYSTEM

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.6996.46 (Published 01 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:46
  1. Nicholas Lee,
  2. Andrew Millman

    Although computer equipment or hardware is continually falling in price, it represents a considerable investment and requires careful though before purchase. Start by thinking what you wish the computer to do. Remember that you will probably soon find many unexpected uses for it and that the demands you place on the system are likely to grow. It is therefore important to buy a system that can be easily expanded and upgraded. Even the most basic computer will run a simple word processor, but a modern, user friendly graphical user interface such as Microsoft Windows requires a more powerfull computer.

    What you can do with a computer.

    IBM PC or Apple Macintosh?

    Many people are torn between buying an IBM PC and an Apple Macintosh. Both systems are excellent and have enthusiastic users. The Macintosh has been favoured because it has a graphical user interface which is easy to use and upgrading is simple. On the other hand, PCs now have a similar interface, are cheaper, and are more widely used. Furthermore, many companies offer optional extras for the PC at a reasonable price. Currently the PC dominates the business market while Macintosh has been favoured by graphic designers.

    Apple Macintosh computer.

    An extensive range of software is available for both formats, and most of the major programs are now available for both the PC and Macintosh. There is also a trend towards common file formats so that work can easily be transferred from one to the other. It is often best to buy the same type of computer as used in your department because there will be an established body of expertise to draw on and you will be able to share resources with your colleagues. As most people use PCs we have focused onthese, but the basic principles can be applied to both types …

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