Gloucestershire Local History banner

Further Notes on Computer Equipment and Software

Guidelines No. 2         Issue 1.01:         June 2007


In Guidelines No. 1: Local History Societies and Computers there is a brief section on choosing a computer. This page provides some additional information on computer equipment and software.

It would be useful to us to have your views on these guidelines. Please send your feedback to the Chairman


You will almost certainly need a printer.  A laser printer is a good choice it all your output is black and white (text or images).   Most people want some colour output and a colour ink-jet printer is then normal choice.  Be careful to use a good quality paper, because this can affect the quality of your print with any machine.

Scanners, CD Writers and Digital Cameras

Two things that have become affordable and are well worth having are:-

(i) A scanner for capturing images of photographs and drawings.  Furthermore it allows printed documents to be converted in editable word processing files using  'optical character recognition' (OCR) technology.   Some systems can be fitted with an adapter to scan 35 mm negatives and slides.  Make sure the scanning resolution is adequate for your needs.

(ii) a device for creating your own compact disks (CDs).   The most versatile are the sort known as CD re-writers. They are an excellent way of saving large quantities of data such as images of audio files.  You might consider an advanced version known as DVD which has a much larger capacity and getting much cheaper that a year ago.

Digital cameras are improving ever year and getting cheaper


Some computers come with a vast array of software but some of it is much more useful than others.  You will certainly require word processing software and protection from viruses.  Some or even all of the following may be useful

Spreadsheet,  e.g.  Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3 for analysing data.

Database, e.g.  Microsoft Access or Lotus Approach for storing and analysing data

Graphics packages      e.g.  Adobe PhotoShop, Corel Draw or Paint Shop Pro

Desk Top Publishing (DTP) software for newsletters and booklets (there are many programs) MS Publisher is one

Web Authoring  packages to create World wide web pages  (there are many programs e.g. Front Page Express)

There are many other topics such as Computer Aided Design (CAD)for drawing plans and voice recognition software (which, in principle, reduces typing in material).Two popular packages for CAD are AutoCad and IntelliCad

Specialist software is available for Family History research see for example

The computer group of the Local History Association has some members who are willing to give some general advice by telephone on the subject of computers, printers, software and related matters.  If you would like to be put in touch with one of these people please contact the Chairman