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Owner's report on best, worst farm computers
Are you satisfied with your farm computer? What could the manufacturer do to improve it? What's the best software you've found for farm use? What's the worst software you've tried? What farm-related chores do you perform with your computer?
These are some of the questions we asked randomly selected farm computer owners in an effort to highlight equipment that performs with flying colors, and to pinpoint the "lemons" that fail because of poor performance, or failure of the dealer or company to provide service.
Here's how the survey shaped up:

"I've had little trouble but the programs run notoriously slow," says Steve Rash, Union, Iowa, about his 1985 Commodore 64 computer. "Biggest problem is lack of farm software for the 64. They should make it compatible with IBM and speed up the disk drive."
"I'm satisfied but they should increase the memory size and increase speed and disk capacity," says Duane Madoerin, Williamsburg, Iowa, about his 1983 Apple IIe, which he uses primarily for record keeping and budgeting. He'd like to see it adapted to IBM software. "More programs are being developed for IBM."
Delane Thoreson, Climax, Minn., likes his 1983 IBM PC. "It's fast and I've never needed a service call. We use it to store crop records and do bookkeeping."
"We use it for all bookkeeping, dairy breeding records, farm inventory, cash flow, and financial planning. Does what we need but it could be speeded up and the memory could be increased," says Mitchell Parkhurst, Weartherby, Mo., about his 1985 Radio Shack Model IV.
"My 1985 IBM XT has ample capacity to handle all my crop records, inventory, and accounts receivable," says Brymer Humphreys, New Hartford, N.Y.
"It's faster and cheaper than IBM and runs many similar programs. I especially like the keyboard. The only thing it could use is a little more memory," says Lloyd Kentner, Rossville, Ill., pleased with his 1985 Radio Shack Tandy 1000.
Gary Hild, Davenport, Neb., is pleased with his 1984 Commodore 64 computer but says he has trouble finding programs. "Except for one of Commodore's own programs, called Timeworks, I haven't found much. However, I do yield calculations, costs per acre, cash flow analysis, and keep track of inventory. The computer could be speeded up a bit."
"There are getting to be a lot of ag computing programs written for IBM. My 1984 IBM PC is easy to run and I can't think of any way they could improve it. Why buy another brand when they're all just copying IBM?" says Michael Olson, White, S. Dak.
John Epler, Northumberland, Penn., owns an AT&T 6300. "We're satisfied with it after we expanded it from 256K to 640K. We operate a re tail store, a dairy herd and a cropping operation. One problem is that it seems to have a sticky keyboard."
"We're happy with our 1985 IBM XT computer. It does everything we need, including cash flow projections and crop records, and I'll be able to expand it later, if needed," says Roger Kaiser, Carrollton, Mo.
Richard Ness, Ruthton, Minn., owns a 1983 Apple IIe. "Works great. We use it for accounting, management records, depreciation, financial statements, cash flow analysis, crop enterprise analysis, and to receive electronic newsmedia. Even though we like it, our next computer may be an IBM because there's more software available and it's faster."
"They should redesign the keyboard," says Robert Merkle, Ashkum, Ill., otherwise pleased with his 1983 IBM XT. "It does all the accounting and spread-sheet work I need. I also use it for enterprise analysis, budgeting, and cash flow work."
"Although it's considered obsolete now, our 1982 Osborne computer was the original portable computer and came with most of the software basic to any business enterprise. We use it for bookkeeping, 'what-if' spreadsheets, mailing lists, letter writing and swine performance record keeping. Despite its early vintage, it's been reliable, and a good performer," reports Tim Burkey, Dorchester, Neb.
James W. Barker, Ireton, Iowa, has had good luck with his 1984 Apple Macintosh 128K computer. "Easy to use and we're continually finding new ways to use it


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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #3