Computers In The Shop

Office technology can greatly automate necessary tasks for the gunsmith.

by Wendell Dwight Deaner

As any of you know who have been following my articles in American Gunsmith, I probably come off as a crusty old dinosaur mired in the past glory of the early 19th century. However, looks, as well as the written word, can be deceiving. Just catch some of the propaganda on your TV or local newspaper and you’ll understand what I mean.

I’m going to admit here and now that I am a computer junkie and have been since the ‘70s when I bought my first one, an AT&T machine (bet you didn’t know they made them) that I paid almost $3,000 for! For that kind of juice I got a computer that wasn’t on the Internet (didn’t really exist yet) had two 5¼ inch floppy disk drives (no hard drive) and was only used for word processing and games that I could afford. It didn’t even come with a printer. I bought a daisy wheel letter-quality printer later for about $400. Man, have the prices come down. I threw that computer and printer out in the trash one day while shedding a tear over the exorbitant expense they represented.

But life goes on, and after I don’t know how many machines later, I am now on my latest desktop and laptop and am planning to update my system at the beginning of the new year. One thing I am sure of is that you get a hell of a bang for your buck nowadays compared to the poor suckers like me who didn’t know they were “investing” in planned obsolescence. Just like the “pocket” calculator I bought while I attended college that I thought would help me understand all those fancy scientific formulas for only $400 (sure beats a slide rule) but that’s another story. That baby ate batteries like a crocodile eats swimming wildebeests and came with an adapter to allow you to plug it into a wall outlet. Today you can buy a solar powered lightweight powerhouse for about ten bucks.

Not only have computers and calculators become imminently affordable but printers are also a world apart from how they started out. Remember dot matrix printers? Does your printer still use expensive ink cartridges? I bought a laser black and white printer for less than three hundred dollars. The printing cartridge is supposed to last for about 5,000 pages and a replacement costs less than $100. Oh, happy days! I’m even “wasting” my cartridge to print such mundane items as recipes.

Have you joined the informational age in your shop, and if not, why not? What’s it good for, you say? Here are a few examples of how a computer system can not only increase your efficiency but also actually save you money.

Read more in our November 2014 issue. Back issues are available.

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