There are essentially three types of computer software relevant to the requirements of a molecular biology laboratory. The most important of these are the scientific data analysis and management programs that are covered in detail in the majority of this Directory. The second class of programs are those that are not directly concerned with laboratory results, but can assist in the running of everyday science. For example, storing and retrieving bibliographic references, preparing scientific manuscripts and the graphical presentation of results. The third type are programs that help with electronic communications and the transfer of data to and from other computer systems such as BIONET or GenBank. This section describes software of the second and third kinds: general information handling and computer communications. In particular, the aim is to introduce general purpose software and software developed for the business community and illustrate how it might be used in the laboratory. The rationale for this approach is that many microcomputer systems are delivered with business software as a marketing ploy and it seems sensible to show how this “free” software can be put to good use. In the spirit of getting the best from your computer system, the last part of this section (Page 27) discusses how the utility and performance of a microcomputer can be improved by adding accessories.
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