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Has a home computer moved in with you?

Why doesn't a regular desk work for computers? There are two reasons.

The simpler one is that a standard desk is not designed to accommodate the bulk of the peripheral equipment a computer needs. Monitors, disk drives, cassettes, joy sticks, and a library of programs, manuals, and magnetic files will tax the limits of most conventional work surfaces. Printers--and the accordion stacks of paper they spew out--take up a lot of room. These devices need special stands, slots, and cubby holes, plus provision for their interconnected wiring.

The second reason is ergonomics. This buzz word came into its own as office planners began to realize that working at a computer makes different physical demands from working at a desk. Basically, it refers to human engineering--to designing tools, equipment, and work spaces so people are comfortable and can perform efficiently.

In last July's Sunset, we asked for your ideas on how you store your home computers. The even installations you see on these pages--selected from more than 50 responses--present a range of solutions, from the simple conversion of a typing or television stand to finely detailed, built-in cabinetry. All are designed to make using the computer and its accessories as convenient as possible.

We also show you what the professionals consider acceptable standards for such installations. More problems created than solved?

As microcomputers moved into the office, employees who spent most of their time working on them developed stiff necks, back pain, eyestrain, and other related ailments.

Studies revealed that chairs, work centers, and lighting designed for the paper office were becoming indirectly responsible for medical problems in the electronic office. Computers were being shoved into any available space, and the ignored ergonomic considerations took their toll.

AT home, you can incorporate lessons learned in the workplace. Guidelines set down by many groups (The National Institute for Occupational safety and Health. The National Association of Working Women, domestic and international trade unions, and government panels in Germany, Sweden, and Japan) specify the same basic requirements. Any effective design should take them into account, particularly if you're planning to spend a lot of time in front of your VDT (video display terminal). The photograph above is based on the findings of various organizations. Use the standards provided to help design your own work station. Reader's hints for home installation

Where should you put the home computer? Jane Isaacson, whose dining room/kitchen installation is shown on page 126, said: "A neighbor told me that if we put the computer in a den or spare bedroom, I'd never see my family again."

With installations in well-used spaces, it's important that the unit look tidy when not in use. Or you can make the stand portable. One reader told us that portability increased use of the computer, since a specific room didn't need to be free for it. Other considerations include some form of security: "The two oak doors have locks to keep unwanted computer pirates such as our 4-1/2-year-old daughter away, "said Richard Marks. Bob Riddervold quipped, "Our young daughter was prowling through the tape cassette drawers and suddenly exclaimed 'Daddy, we have a new computer game--LONE RATS!' We told her taht Loan Rates was a game grown-ups play.

Two other points involve electricity. Power-surge bars are strongly recommended. Built into them are circuit breakers that cut down power when surges come through the line that might otherwise damage your equipment. Also, think about antistatic floor mats if your house seems prone to static charges--that little shock you get when you touch something can be strong enough to disrupt the contents of a magnetic disk. Where to buy ready-made units

A few years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find outlets where you could learn more about manufactured computer furniture if you didn't want to make your own. Now, however, stores like Office 2000 in Irvine (shown at left), specialize in computer furniture. Many office-supply stores are increasing their lines as manufacturers tool up to produce computer-oriented designs. Furniture and department stores are also showing lines of computer furniture.

Local computer outlets should be able to direct you to stores in your area that carry computer furniture lines. Those stores will have more detailed information on the ergonomics of computer use and should be able to answer questions.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1984
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