Congratulations! Youíve decided to learn more about computers! Now you can get even with the thousands of computers trying to learn about you.

This book turns you into a computer expert even if youíre an idiot. In fact, some of the worldís most famous computer experts have read this book ó and are idiots!

This book tells you more about computers than your mom recommends. It guides you through the highs and heartaches, the thrills and chills. Despite efforts to suppress this secret book, you managed to find it. Now the power of computer w isdom passes to you, so you become the next computer guru!

Computer experts worldwide have praised this computer book for being the best ever written, the key that unlocks the darkest secrets and cuts through the crap. Itís the only book rated "best&q uot; by ALL popular computer magazines, the only book covering all computer topics, the only book making even the stickiest computer topics smooth, and the only available book whose author is foolish enough to give you his home phone number.

Phone me

Iím the author. My home phone number is 617-666-2666.

Itís easy to memorize! After dialing Bostonís area code (617), dial the phone number for the devilís double: 666-2-666.

Dial it whenever you wonder what-the-devil your computerís doing. When computers make you ill, dial "Sick, sick, sick! Too sick, sick, sick!"

Welcome to your new computer.

Iíll be your computer tutor.

Hands on keyboard! Eyes up front!

Press those keys! Do not grunt!

When you get a bit confused,

Snatch this book and come peruse.

If you still canít find the fix,

Call 666-2666.

Call whenever you have a question about computers ó or life! Iíll help you free, even if your question is weird or personal. This free consulting service has saved readers many kilohours and kilobucks.

Call day or night, 24 hours: Iím almost always in, and I sleep just lightly. Because of the midnight phone calls, Iím not married ó except to the computers Iíve fallen in love with.

Readers have smuggled copies of this book worldwide, so each month I get phone calls from Finland, Ghana, Singapore, and even wilder places, such as Brooklyn, as thousands of new budding gurus phone me for help.

This bookís become too huge to read over the phone. If you ask me a question answered in the book, Iíll tell you which pages reveal the answer. After youíve read, phone me with any further questions.

For advice about which computer to buy, read the newest edition of the book, then phone me. For help curing an ill computer, call me when your phone is next to the computer. For help running a program, phone me when youíre at the computer and have the programís official manual.

To handle hundreds of calls per day while Iím in the middle of managing my staff and creating new editions, I try to keep the average call to 7 minutes. Begin by saying your name, city, how you got my number ("from the 24th edition"), and a one-sentence summary of your question. Then weíll chat ó unless Iím in the middle of another call or meeting, in which case Iíll call you back, free!

Come visit

Whenever you visit the Boston area, you can drop in and use my free computer library. Drop in anytime: day or night! But in case Iím having an orgy with my 50 computers, please phone first to pick a time when weíre cooled down.

Mail the coupon

Mail us the coupon on this bookís last page. It puts you on our mailing list, which gets you FREE info on our many wild services. You also get discounts on extra copies of this book.

Love your librarian

These details will help your librarian fill in the file cards and not get fired.

Title: The Secret Guide to Computers, 24th edition

So-called author: Russ Walter (also known as "Russy-poo")

Publisher: the same servant as the author

Address: bedroom at 22 Ashland St., Somerville MA 02144

Copywrong: end of 1997 (December) by Russ Walter

International Standard Book Number (ISBN): 0-939151-24-3

Library of Congress: pending; earlier edition 89-51851, QA 76 .W3

Elfish fun

This book was constructed by elves and associated critters, aiming to make your life elful instead of awful.

Sorcererís apprentices: Len Pallazola Kira Barnum Maura Cabral

Friendly ghosts: Yvonne Bohemier Linda Gardner Cathy Carlson

Meadow sprites: Irene Vassos Richard Grant

Wandering minstrels: Larry Mancini Jeff Lowe

Singing Chinese Madonnas: Donna Tang Donna Liao

Artistes bizarre: Cindy Best Susan Goldenberg

Bubbly brights: Anthony Kind Nancy Kafka

Babbling Brooklines: Lisbeth Shaw Michael Krigsman

Gigantic alien brains: Adam Green Roy Krantz

Wonder women: Ruth Spingarn Lili Timmons

Queens of bygone days: Priscilla Grogan Julianne Wattles

Brothers grin: Dan Walter Jim Walter

Printer devils: John Pow Banta

Art collectors: Dover Formatt

Gnome (and is an island unto himself): Russy-poo

Introductory junk

My editor told me to put this stuff in. You donít have to read it.

Dedication I dedicate this book to the computer, without whom Iíd be unemployed.

What this book will do for you Itíll make you even richer than the author! Alas, heís broke.

Prerequisite This book was written for idiots. To see whether you can get through the math, take this test: count to ten but (hereís the catch!) without looking at your f ingers.

Acknowledgment Iíd like to thank:

my many friends (whose names Iíve gladly forgotten)

my students (who naturally arenít my friends)

my word processor (which has a mind of its own)

all others who helped make this book impossible

Apology Any original ideas in this book are errors.

Disclaimer The author denies any knowledge of the scintillating illegal activities he depicts.

Copyright Our copyright policy is simple: hey, copying is all right! Make as many copies as you like, and donít pay us a cent. Just follow the "free reprint" in structions on page 9.

Forward Öbecause itís too late to turn back.

Whatís in this book

The Secret Guide to Computers is the worldís only complete computer tutorial. It covers everything important about computers!

Feast your eyes on the massive table of contents, splashed across the next page. It reveals that the Guide includes all 9 parts of computer lore: "Buyerís guide", "Operating systems", "Word processing", &qu ot;Communication", "Spreadsheets", "Databases", "Wild applications", "Programming", and "Endnotes".

Buyerís guide

The Guide begins by explaining computer technology, computer jargon, and how to buy a great computer cheaply.

It analyzes each of the computerís parts (the chips, disks, screens, printers, other hardware, and software) and tells you the best way t o buy a complete computer system. It explains how to buy the most common kind of computers (IBM-compatibles), the fascinating competitors from Apple, and alternative computers that are wildly different.

The Guide makes specific recommendations about which brands to buy and where to buy them. It delves into each manufacturerís goodies and not-so-goodies. It reveals the nasty details that salespeople try to hide. It turns you into a Germ an nun, who knows the difference between whatís blessed and whatís wurst.

Operating systems

After getting a computer, you operate it by typing commands on its keyboard or wiggling its mouse. The Guide explains the popular operating systems: Windows 95 (used for most new computers), Windows 3.1 & 3.11 (for older computers), MS-DOS (for all IBM-compatible computers), and the Mac system (for the Apple Macintosh).

Word processing

The most popular thing to do with a computer is to make it replace your typewriter. Thatís called "word processing". The word-processing chapter explains how to use the best word-processing programs: Microsoft Word (which performs the fanciest tricks), Ami Pro (which is hassle-free), Q&A Write (which is the easiest to learn), and Word Perfect (the old classic still used by most businesses).


Computers form their own society: they chat with computers in other rooms, other cities, and other countries! The most popular way to let your computer chat with far-away computers is to use a worldwide network calle d "the Internet." The Guide demystifies that (so you become an "Internut"), then reveals how to make your computer send a fax and chat with nearby computers that form local-area networks.


Tables of numbers are called spreadsheets. The Guide explains how to use the fanciest spreadsheet program: Excel. It also explains how to use competitors (1-2-3 & Quattro), which cost less to run.


Instead of using file cards, put databases on the computer! The Guide explains how to use the easiest wonderful database program (Q&A File) and analyzes advanced databases that are harder.

Tricky applications

The Guide explores even the trickiest applications. You learn how to make your computer handle graphics, desktop publi shing, multimedia; accounting, personal programs (everythi ng from lovemaking to therapy!), games (seductive fun!), and artificial intelligence (so the computer seems to become human).


Our world is split into three classes of people:

avoiders (who fear and loathe computers and avoid them)

users (who use computers but donít really understand them)

programmers (who understand computers and can teach them new tricks)

The Guide elevates your mind to the heights of class 3: it turns you into a sophisticated programmer.

Since the Guideís explanation of "BASIC" expands your understanding of computers so dramatically, donít wait! Start reading it the same day you start "Spreadsheets" ó as if you were taking two courses simultaneously.

To program the computer, you feed it instructions written in a computer language. The Guide explains all the popular computer languages.

It begins with the easiest popular language (BASIC). Then it explains DBASE (the fanciest language for handling databa ses), PASCAL (which many colleges require freshmen to learn), "C" (the most popular language among experts, whoíve used it to c reate all the popular programs for word processing, communication, spreadsheets, and databases), and LOGO (used by kids in elementary school to make turtles dance across the computerís screen).

In the "good old days", when programmers were treated like gods, the most popular computer languages were FORTRAN (for scientists) and COBOL (for businesses). Though theyíre called "the languages for old fogeys" now, many big computers still thrive on them ó and so do many careers! The Guide covers a semesterís course in each.

A gigantic chapter analyzes 23 strange tongues and divides those computer languages into three categories.


radical languages: LISP, SNOBOL, APL, LOGO, FORTH, PILOT

specialized languages: APT, DYNAMO, GPSS, RPG, SPSS, PROLOG

The chapter tutors you in all of them. It even includes a multilingual dictionary that helps you translate programs to different computer languages.

To top it all off, you learn how to program by using the most common assembler for the IBM PC and translate your programs to the Macintosh and other computers.


I hate to admit it, but occasionally computers break! The chapter on repairs explains how to fix them.

We members of the computer industry all have skeletons in our closet. The Guide digs up our past and counsels you about how to improve your career and your future.

You also get an explanation of numerical analysis, an index to the entire Guide, and coupons for getting more goodies! Wow!

Table of contents

Snipped by Auri because it really makes NO sense in the online version. Eventually I'll get a linked index together. Here's some of the clip art that was on that page though: silly clipart silly clipart

Praised by reviewers

If you like this book, youíre not alone.

Praised by computer magazines

All the famous computer magazines call Russ Walter "Bostonís computer guru" and praise him for giving free consulting even in the middle of the night. Hereís how they evaluate The Secret Guide to Computers. Ö

PC World: "Russ Walter is a PC pioneer, a trailblazer, the userís champion. Nobody does a more thorough, practical, and entertaining job of teaching PC technology. H is incomparable Guide receives nothing but praise for its scope, wit, and enormous practicality. It offers a generous compendium of industry gossip, buying advice, and detailed, foolproof tutorials. Itís a wonderful bargain."

Byte: "The Guide is amazing. If you need to understand computers and havenít had much luck at it, or have to teach other people about computers, or just want to read a good book about computers, get the Guide."

Computer Currents: "Your computer literacy quotient will always come up short unless you know something about Russ Walter. Heís a folk hero. He knows virtually every thing about personal computers and makes learning about computers fun. If youíve given up in disgust and dismay at reading other computer books, get the Guide. It should be next to every PC in the country. PC vendors would do themselves and their customer s a big favor by packing a copy of the Guide with every computer that goes out the door. The Guide deserves the very highest recommendation."

PC Magazine: "The Guide explains the computer industry, hardware, languages, operating systems, and applications in a knowledgeable and amusing fashion. It includes Russ Walterís unbiased view of the successes and failures of various companies, replete with inside gossip. By working your way through it, youíll know more than many who make their living with PCs. Whether novice or expert, youíll learn from the Guide an d have a good time doing so. No other computer book is a better value."

Abacus: "Alternative-culture Walter provides the best current treatment of programming languages. Itís irreverent, reminiscent of the underground books of the 1960ís . Itís simple to read, fast-paced, surprisingly complete, full of locker-room computer gossip, and loaded with examples."

Infoworld: "Russ Walter is recognized and respected in many parts of the country as a knowledgeable and effective instructor. His Guide is readable, outrageous, and includes a wealth of information."

Mac User: "Itís an everything-under-one-roof computer technology guide."

Computerworld: "The Guide by unconventional computer guru Russ Walter is informative and entertaining."

Computer Shopper: "The Guide covers the entire spectrum. Itís incredibly informative and amusing."

Home Office Computing: "Russ Walter is a computer missionary whoís a success story."

Classroom Computer Learning: "Russ Walterís courses are intensive and inexpensive."

Compute: "Russ Walter is an industry leader."

Praised by the classics Earlier editions of the Guide were praised by all the classic computer magazines.

Popular Computing: "Russ Walter is king of the East Coast computer cognoscenti. His Guide is the biggest bargain in computer tutorials in our hemisphere. If CBS ever decide s to replace Andy Rooney with a Ď60 Minutesí computer pundit, theyíd need to look no further than Russ Walter. His wry Walterian observations enliven nearly every page of his book. His Guide is the first collection of computer writings that one might dare call literature."

Personal Computing: "The Guide is bulging with information. Youíll enjoy it. Russ Walterís approach to text-writing sets a new style that other authors might do well to follow. Itís readable, instructive, and downright entertaining. If more college texts were written in the Russ Walter style, more college students would reach their commencement day."

Creative Computing: "The Guide is fascinating, easy to understand, an excellent book at a ridiculously low price. We especially endor se it."

Cider Press: "The Guide should be given to all beginners with the purchase of their computers."

Softalk: "The Guide fires well-deserved salvos at many sacred cows. Itís long been a cult hit."

Computer Bargain Info: "The Guide is widely acclaimed by experts as brilliant."

Eighty Micro: "Theatrical, madcap Russ is a cult hero."

Interface Age: "The Guide is a best buy."

Enter: "Itís the best book about computer languages."

Microcomputing: "Plan ahead; get in on the Secret now."

Praised by mass-market magazines

Mass-market magazines call the Guide amazing.

Scientific American: "The Guide is irresistible. Every instruction leads to a useful result. Walterís candor shines; he makes clear the faults and foibles others ign ore or cast in vague hints. The effect is that of a private conversation with a well-informed talkative friend who knows the inside story. The text reads like the patter of a talented midnight disc jockey; itís flip, self-deprecatory, randy, and good-humo red. His useful frank content and coherent style are unique. First-rate advice on what and how to buy are part of the rich mix. No room holding a small computer and an adult learning to use it is well equipped without the Guide."

The Whole Earth Catalog in its "Coevolution Quarterly": "The personal-computer subculture was noted for its fierce honesty in its early years. The Guide is one of the few intro books to carry on that tradition, and the only introductory survey of equipment thatís kept up to date. Russ Walter jokes, bitches, enthuses, condemns, and charms. The book tells the bald truth in comprehensible language."

Omni: "Guru Russ Walter sympathizes deeply with people facing a system crash at midnight, so he broadcasts his home phone number and answers calls by the light of hi s computers, cursors winking. Heís considered an excellent teacher. His Guide is utterly comprehensive."

Changing Times: "Russ Walter is a computer whiz whose mission is to educate people about computers. Like a doctor, he lets strangers call him in the middle of the ni ght for help with diagnosing a sick computer. His Guide covers everything you ever wanted to know."

Esquire: "The handy Guide contains lots of fact and opinion untainted by bias."

Barronís: "Russ Walter is an expert who answers questions for free and has been inundated by calls."

Praised by computer clubs

Computer clubs call the Guide the best computer book, in their newsletters, newspapers, and magazines.

Boston Computer Society: "The Guide is cleverly graduated, outrageous, and funny. Russ Walter turns computerese into plain speaking, while making you giggle. Heís ye ars ahead of the pack that claims to have ways of instructing computer novices. His unique mix of zany humor and step-by-step instruction avoids the mistakes of manuals that attempt to follow his lead."

Connecticut Computer Society: "Russ Walterís books have been used by insiders for years. Heís special as a teacher because of three factors: his comprehensive knowle dge of many computers and their languages, operating system, and applications; his ability to break complicated processes into the smallest components; and his humor. A valuable feature of the Guide is his candid comments about various computers and softw are. Heís one of the few people able to review languages, machines, and software, all in a humorous, clear manner, with the whole endeavor set off by his sense of industry perspective, history, and culture. If youíre ever struck with a computer problem, g ive Russ a call."

New England Computer Society: "Russ Walter is considered one of the few true computer gurus. His Guide is the worldís best tutorial. Itís the single best present any one could receive who cares to know more about computers without going crazy."

New Yorkís "NYPC": "The Guide is the perfect text for anyone beginning to learn about computers because it contains real info in readable form about a rang e of subjects otherwise requiring a whole reference library. Itís even better for the experienced computer user, since it also contains many, many advanced concepts that one person could hardly remember. But one person apparently remembered them all: Russ Walter. Heís a fountain of computer knowledge and can even explain it in words of one syllable. His Guide reads like a novel: you can read simply for fun. Itís recommended to anyone from rank beginner to seasoned power user."

Sacramento (California) PC Users Group: "The Guide is the best collection of computer help ever written. It includes just about everything youíd want to know about c omputers. Youíll find answers for all the questions you thought of and some you didnít think of. No holds barred, Walter even tells you who in the industry made the mistakes and rotten computers, and who seemed to succeed in spite of themselves. The Guide is fascinating. Itís recommended for anyone even slightly interested in computers."

Praised by librarians

Librarians call the Guide the best computer book ever written.

School Library Journal: "The Guide is a gold mine of information. Itís crystal clear, while at the same time Walter delivers a laugh a paragraph along with a lot of excellent info. Itís accessible even to kids, who will love its loony humor. Buy it; youíll like it."

Wilson Library Bulletin: "The Guide is distinguished by its blend of clarity, organization, and humor. It cuts through the techno-haze. It packs more simple, fresh e xplication per page than anything else available."

Praised around the world

The Guide is praised by newspapers around the world.

Australiaís "Sydney Morning Herald": "The Guide is the best computer intro published anywhere in the world. It gives a total overview of personal computers . Itís stimulating, educational, provocative, and a damn good read."

The Australian: "The Guideís coverage of programming is intelligent, urbane, extremely funny, and full of great ideas."

Englandís "Manchester Guardian": "Russ Walter is a welcome relief. The internationally renowned computer guru tries to keep computerdomís honesty alive. Hi s Guide is an extraordinary source of information."

Silicon Valleyís "Times Tribune": "The Guide invites you to throw aside all rules of conventional texts and plunge into the computer world entirely naked a nd unafraid. This book makes learning not only fun, but hilarious, inspiring, and addicting."

Dallas Times Herald: "Easily the best beginnersí book seen, itís not just for beginners. Its strength is how simple it makes everything, without sacrificing what mat ters."

Detroit News: "Russ Walter is a legendary teacher. His fiercely honest Guide packs an incredible amount of info. Itís the only book that includes everything. He give s you all the dirt about the companies and their hardware, evaluates their business practices, and exposes problems they try to hide. Phone him. Youíll always get a truthful answer."

Chicago Tribune: "The Guide is the best computer book. Itís a cornucopia of computer delights written by Russ Walter, a great altruist and dreamer."

Kentuckyís "Louisville Courier": "Walterís Guide will teach you more computer fundamentals than the thick books in the average bookstore. The Guide gives h is no-bull insights. He not only discusses computer mail-order sources, which most books avoid; he names the bad guys. The Guideís biggest appeal is its humor, wit, and personality."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "Russ Walter is the Ann Landers for computer klutzes, a high-tech hero. His wacky, massive Guide is filled with his folksy wit."

New York Times: "The computer-obsessed will revel in Walterís Guide. He covers just about every subject in the microcomputer universe. Itís unlikely you have a quest ion his book doesnít answer."

Wall Street Journal: "Russ Walter is a computer expert, a guru who doesnít mind phone calls. He brings religious-like fervor to the digital world. His students are g rateful. His Guide gets good reviews. Heís influential."

Connecticutís "Hartford Courant": "If you plan to buy a personal computer, the best gift to give yourself is the Guide. Itís crammed with info. It became a n instant success as one of the few microcomputer books that was not only understandable and inexpensive but also witty ó a combination still too rare today."

Boston Globe: "Russ Walter is a unique resource, important to beginning and advanced users. His Guide is practical, down-to-earth, and easy to read."

Boston Phoenix: "Russ Walter has achieved international cult status. He knows his stuff, and his comprehensive Guide is a great deal."

Fan mail

From our readers, weíve received thousands of letters and phone calls, praising us. Here are some recent examples.


Our books make readers go nuts.

Get high "Iím high! Not on marijuana, crack, or cocaine, but on what I did at my computer with BASIC and your Guide." (Beverly, Massachusetts)

Strange laughs "I enjoy the Guide immensely! My fellow workers think Iím strange because of all my laughing while reading it. Whenever I feel tired or bored, I pick up the Guide. Itís very refreshing!" (Acton, Massachusetts)

Poo-poo "I finished the book at 2:30 AM and had to sit down and send you a big THANK-YOU-poo. A poet I am not, crazy I was not, until I started 18 months ago with th is computer and then came poo who sealed my lot." (Hinesville, Georgia)

Computer dreams "Wow ó I loved your book. My husband says I talk about computers in my sleep." (Los Altos Hills, California)

Bedtime story "The bookís next to the bed, where my wife and I can see who grabs it first. The loser must find something else to do, which often causes serious degra dation of reading comprehension." (Danville, New Hampshire)

Love in Paris "If you ever come to Paris, give me a call. Iíll be more than happy to meet the guy I admire most in the computer industry." (Paris)

Sex "Great book. Better than sex." (Worcester, Massachusetts)

Devil "This book is great. It moves like the fastest Mac, soars with the eagles, and dances with the devil." (Chicago)

God "Iím a Russy groupie now! You are God! Your book lets me put it all together." (San Diego)

National TV "Great! When are you going on national TV? America needs you!" (Berkeley, California)

National debt "I think you do a fabulous job with computers! You should be in Washington & organize our country, and maybe we could be debt-free." (Tavares, Florida)


Even beginners can master the Guide.

Godsend "Youíre a godsend. You saved me from being bamboozled by the local computer store." (Boston)

Saint "You should be canonized for bringing clarity and humor to a field often incomprehensible and dull." (Houston)

Companion to the lonely "Your bookís a nice companion when Iím alone, because it talks. It answers more questions than I can ask." (Carson, California)

Computer disease "I was scared to go near a computer. I thought I might catch something. Now I canít wait." (Paterson, New Jersey)

Face-off "I used to be an idiot. Now I can stare my computer in the face. Thanks." (San Antonio, Texas)


Amaze the professor "I love the Guide! Iíve read it before taking a BASIC course, and Iím amazing my professor with my secret skills!" (Olney, Illinois)< /P>

Walking encyclopedia "Your Guide really helps. I work with a great programmer whoís like a walking computer encyclopedia. Now I know what heís saying!" (San Lea ndro, California)

Muscle in "So many computer experts speak a language all their own. They look down on us and consider us to be outsiders trying to muscle our way into their world. T hanks for helping the outsiders." (New Iberia, Lousiana)

Facing fear "Thank you! Iím 42, married to a computer guru, with two daughters whoíve been in front of a computer since first grade. Finally, I feel that I ca n face my fear and that Iím not alone." (Malvern, Pennsylvania)

Grannyís clammy "Iím a 58-year-old grandma. My daughter gave me an IBM PC. After weeks of frustration I got your Guide. Now Iím happy as a clam at high tide, eager t o learn more & more. Wow!" (Seattle)

Moment of discovery "After retiring, I searched for something to stimulate my mind. I bought a computer and tried to unravel its mysteries. The more I studied big bo oks bought from computer stores, the more confused I became. Then I stumbled across the Guide. At that precise moment I discovered the beautiful, crazy, wild world of the computer! Thanks." (Tewksbury, Massachusetts)

Bury the Book of Songs "This is the microcomputer book that should be buried in a time capsule for future archaeologists. By reading it, Iíve made my computer sing. My wife recognizes the melodies and wants to read the book." (Park Forest, Illinois)


Experts love the Guide.

PC Week reporter "I write for PC Week and think the Guide is the best book of its kind. Iím sending a copy to my little brother, whoís a budding byte-h ead." (Boston)

Editor at Lotus "Thanks so much for sending the Guide. Itís great! Seems Iím the only one here in my office at Lotus who hadnít heard about it. Youíve got qui te a following. Again, thanks!" (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Math professor "Iím a math professor. The Guideís the best way in the universe to keep up to date with computers. People donít have to read anything else ó itís a ll there." (New York City)

Diehard mainframer "It is really neat! Iíve been a mainframe computer consultant for many years, and when your book came yesterday I couldnít put it down." (Cle veland Heights, Ohio)

Refreshed programmers "I passed the Guide around my team of mainframe programmers, and most of them bought. Itís so refreshing, after the parched dryness of IBM-ese, to find a book in English!" (Union, New Jersey)

Research center "Our research center uses and misuses gigabytes of computers. The Guide will improve our use/misuse ratio." (Naperville, Illinois)


The Guideís propelled many careers.

Land a first job "Last month, I bought your Guide. Iíve never seen so much info, packed so densely, in so entertaining a read. I was just offered a computer job, tha nks to a presentation based on your Guide. Iím very, very, very happy I bought your book." (San Francisco)

Land a top job "Thanks to the Guide, I got an excellent job guiding the selection of computers in a department of over 250 users!" (New York City)

Found Wall Street "Eight years ago, I took your intro programming course. Now I run the computer department of a Wall Street brokerage firm. Iím responsible for 30 p eople and millions of dollars of computer equipment. The Guideís always been my foremost reference. Thank you for the key to wonderful new worlds." (Long Beach, New York)

Consultantís dream "Inspired by your book, your love for computers, and your burning desire to show the world that computers are fun and easily accessible, I entered the computer field. Now Iím a computer consultant. Your ideas come from the heart. Thanks for following your dream." (Skokie, Illinois)

Kid who grew up "Years ago, I saw you sell books while wearing a wizardís cap. I bought a book and was as impressed as a 16-year-old could be. Now Iíve earned B.A.ís in Computer Science and English, and Iím contemplating teaching computers to high school students. I can think of no better way to plan a course outline than around your Guide." (Pennington, New Jersey)

Better late than never

Readers wish theyíd found the Guide sooner.

1 year "I learned more from the Guide than from a year in the computer industry." (Redwood City, California)

5 years "Iíve fumbled for 5 years with computers and many books, all with short-lived flashes of enthusiasm, until I found your Guide. Itís the first book that showe d a light at the end of the tunnel, even for one as dull-brained as I." (Boise)

17 years "Though in a computer company for 17 years, I didnít learn anything about computers until I began reading the Guide. I love it! I always thought computer pe ople were generically boring, but your bookís changed my mind." (Hopkinton, Massachusetts)

Prince Charming arrives "Where have you been all my life? I wish Iíd heard of your Guide long ago. Iíd have made far fewer mistakes if it had been here alongside my computer." (White Stone, Virginia)

Hack a Mac "Great book. Iím 14 and always wanted to hack. Thanks to your Guide, I laughed myself to death and look forward to gutting my Mac. Yours is the friendlies t, funniest book on computers Iíve seen. Iím finally going to teach my parents BASIC. If Iíd started out with the Guide, Iíd have saved five years of fooling around in the dark." (Northport, Alabama)


Readers pass the Guide to their friends.

Round the office "Send 150 books. I passed my Guide around the office, and just about everyone who saw it wants copies." (Middleburg Heights, Ohio)

Coordinating the coordinators "Your book is amazing! Iím telling the other 50 PC coordinators in my company to be sure theyíre in on the secret. Bless you for your m agnanimous philosophy!" (Morristown, New Jersey)

Hide your secrets "I thought the Guide marvelous and proudly displayed it on my desk. A friend from South Africa saw it and said our friendship depended on letting h er take it home with her. What could I do? Youíve gone international. Iím ordering another copy. Should I hide the book this time?" (Cinnaminson, New Jersey)

Cries and anger "I made the mistake of letting several friends borrow my copy of the Guide. Each time I tried getting it back, it was a battle. (I hate to see grown people cry.) I promised to order them copies of their own. I delayed several months, and now Iíve got an angry mob outside my door. While you process my order, Iíll try pacifying them by reading aloud." (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Round the house "Dad bought your Guide to help him understand my computer. Itís become the most widely read book in our house. We love it!" (Boca Raton, Florida )

Squabble with Dad "I love the Guide. Dad & I squabble over our only copy. Send a second so I can finish the Guide in peace." (New York City)

Change my brother "The Guide changed my computer scorn & fear to interest. Send my brother a copy, to effect the same transformation." (New York City)

Selling clones "I took the Guide to a meeting and used your words as a reason why the group should buy an IBM PC clone instead of the other computer they were lookin g at. It worked." (Sparks, Nevada)

Make your guru giggle "I showed the Guide to my guru. Between laughs, chuckles, and guffaws, he agreed to use it to teach his high-school computer class. He even adm itted heíd learned something, and thatís the most unheard of thing I ever heard of." (Arivaca, Arizona)

Smarter sales reps "Our company just released its first software product, and our sales reps are panic-stricken. Iím giving them the Guide to increase their computer background. Thanks for a super book." (Pittsburgh)

Advancing secretary "Iím ordering an extra copy for my secretary, to start her on the path to a higher paying and better regarded position." (Belleville, Illino is)

Compared with other publishers

The Guideís better than any other book.

Better than 10 "I learned more from your Guide than from a total of 10 books read previously." (Honolulu)

No big bucks "Your book is great! Its crazy style really keeps the pages turning. I appreciate someone who doesnít try to make big bucks off someone trying to learn. Thanks." (Vancouver, Washington)

Rip-off "If you can break even at your bookís low price, lots of guys are ripping us off." (Choctaw, Oklahoma)

Who are we?

This section reveals who we are ó even if youíd rather not know.

Interview with Russ

In this interview, Russ answers the most popular questions about this book and whatís behind it.

Why did you write the Secret Guide? I saw my students spending too much effort taking notes, so I made up my own notes to hand them. Over the years, my notes got longer, so this 24th edition totals 639 pages. Each time I develop a new edition, I try to make it the kind of book I wish I had when I was a student.

What does the Guide cover? Everything. Every computer topic is touched on, and the most important topics are covered in depth.

Who reads the Guide? All sorts. Kids read it because itís easy; computer professionals read it because it contains lots of secret tidbits you canít find anywhere else.

Why do you charge so little? Iím not trying to make a profit. Iím just trying to make people happy ó by charging as little as possible, while still covering my expenses. Instead of "charging as much as the market will bear", I try to "charge so little that the public will cheer".

Do you really answer the phone 24 hours a day? When do you sleep? When folks call in the middle of the night, I wake up, answer their questions, then go back to bed. Iím near the phone 85% of the time. If you get no answer, Iím out on a brief errand, so please call again. If you get an answering machine, Iím out on a longer project: just leave your number and Iíll call you back at my expense, even if itís long distance.

Why do you give phone help free? Are you a masochist, a saint, or a nut? I give the free help for three reasons: I like to be a nice guy; it keeps me in touch with my rea ders, who suggest how to improve the Guide further; and the happy callers tell their friends about me, so I donít have to spend money on advertising.

At computer shows, do you really appear as a witch? I wear a witchís black hat and red kimono over a monkís habit and roller skates, while my white gloves caress an Afric an spear. Why? Because itís fun!

Did you write the whole Guide yourself? I wrote the first 22 editions myself. I was helped by many suggestions from my readers, friends, and staff, who also contributed s ome examples and phrases.

The 23rd and 24th editions include some paragraphs written by my research assistant, Len Pallazola, and edited by me. His writing appears especially in sections about the Internet, Novell networks, Doom, Visual BAS IC, viruses, jargon dictionary, and vendor directory.

Whatís your background? I got degrees in math and education from Dartmouth and Harvard, taught at several colleges (Wellesley, Wesleyan, and Northeastern), and was a foun ding editor of Personal Computing magazine. But most of my expertise comes from spending long hours every day reading computer books and magazines, discussing computer questions on the phone, and analyzing the philosophy underlying the computer ind ustry.

About the so-called author

Since the author is so lifeless, we can keep his bio mercifully short.

Birth of a notion The author, Russy-poo, was conceived in 1946. So was the modern ("stored-program") computer.

Nine months later, Russy-poo was hatched. The modern computer took a few years longer, so Russ got a head start. But the computer quickly caught up. Ever since, theyíve been racing against each other, to see whoís smartest.

The race is close, because Russ and the computer have so much in common. Folks say the computer "acts human" and say Russís personality is "as a dead as a computer".

Junior Jews Russ resembles a computer in many ways. For example, both are Jewish.

The father of the modern computer was John von Neumann, a Jew of German descent. After living in Hungary, he fled the Nazis and became a famous U.S. mathematician.

The father of Russy-poo Walter was Henry Walter, a German Jew who fled the Nazis and became a famous U.S. dental salesman. To dentists, he sold teeth, dental chairs, and balloons to amuse the kids while their mouths were mauled.

The race for brains To try beating the computer, Russ got his bachelorís degree in math from Dartmouth in yummy Ď69 and sadly remained a bachelor ever since (unless you c ount the computer he got married to).

After Dartmouth, he got an M.A.T. in math education from Harvard. Since he went to Harvard, you know heís a genius. Like most genii, he achieved the high honor of being a junior-high teacher.

After his classes showered him with the Paper Airplane Award, he moved on to teach at an exclusive private school for girls who were very exclusive. ("Exclusive" means everyone can come except you.)

After teaching every grade from 2 through 12 (he taught the 2nd-grade girls how to run the computer, and the 12th graders less intellectual things), he fled reality by joining Wesleyan Universityís math Ph.D. program in Connecticutís Mi ddletown (the middle of Nowhere), where after 18 months of highbrow hoopla he was seduced by a computer to whom heís now happily married.

Married life After the wedding, Russ moved with his electrifying wife to Northeastern University in Boston (home of the bean and the cod), where he did a hilarious job of teaching in the naughty Department of "Graphic Science". After quitting Northeastern and also editorship of Personal Computing, he spends his time now happily losing money by publishing this book.

Since his wife was lonely, he bought her 40 computers to keep her company, with names such as "Anita Atari", "Aphrodite the Apple", "Baby Blue Burping Bonnie", "Coco the Incredible Clown", " Jack the Shack", "Kooky Casio", "Slick Vic", and "Terrible Tina with her Texas Instruments". He hid them in a van and drove them around the country, where they performed orgies and did a strip tease, to show students a t hing or two about computer anatomy.

Banned in Boston, Russ and his groupies moved north, where they hide in a pleasure palace underneath the Porter Square pine tree. Each room in the palace has a nickname. Come visit the "Input Room" (kitchen), bathroom ("O utput"), three hi-tech rooms ("Production", "Research", and "Creativity"), and four devilish rooms ("Sunshine", "The Cavern", "Pleasure", and "Pain").

Russís body Here are Russís stats, from head to toe:

head in the clouds, hair departing, brow beaten

eyes glazed, lashes 40, nose to the grindstone

mouth off, smile bionic, tongue bitten, teeth remembered

cheeks in a royal flush, chin up, shoulders burdened

wrists watched, hands some, thumbs up, ring finger naked

heart all, back got everyone on it, ass unintentionally, buns toasted

knees knocked, heeled well, arches gothic, toes stepped on

He wears a stuffed shirt, slick slacks, and sacramental socks ó very holy!

Russís résumé We told Russ to write this book because when he handed us the following résumé, we knew he was the kind of author that publisher s dream about: nuts enough to work for free!

Age: too. Sex: yes! Race: rat. Religion: Reformed Nerd.

Address: wear pants instead. State: distressed.

Father: time. Mother: earth. Spouse: Brussels.

Occupation: vegetable. Career goal: play dead.

Hobbies: sleeping and crying. Sports: dodging tomatoes.

Greatest pleasure: hiding under the sink. Favorite food: thought.

Humor: less.

About the company

What company? Címon over, bring milk and cookies, and then weíll have some helluva company!

Come visit our Home Office, in Russís home. It includes our Production Department, near or in Russís bed. Russ gave birth to this book himself; nobody else would dare!

Special services

We do everything possible to make you happy.Ö

Discounts We give you a 20% discount for buying 2 copies of this book, 40% for 4 copies, 60% for 60 copies, and 67% for 666 copies (so you pay just $4.95 per copy). Use t he coupon on the back page.

Use your past Youíre reading the 24th edition. To compute your discount, we count how many copies of the 24th edition youíve ordered from us so f ar. For example, if you previously ordered 30 copies of the 24th edition and order 30 more, we say "Oh, youíre up to 60 copies now!" and give you a 60% discount on the second order.

If you got a discount on an older edition because you bought many copies of it, weíll give you the same discount on the 24th edition even if youíre buying just one copy.

To get a discount based on past orders, mail us the coupon on the back page. Next to your name, write your phone number and say, "Iím taking a discount because of past orders."

Free reprints You may copy this book free. Copy as many pages as you like, make lots of copies, and donít pay us a cent! Just phone Russ first and say which pages youíre going to copy. Put this notice at the beginning of your reprint:

Most of this material comes from the 24th edition of The Secret Guide to Computers, copyright 1997 by Russ Walter and reprinted with permission. Get FREE LITERATURE about the complete Guide by phoning Russ at 617-666-2666, 24 hours (heís almost always in); or send a postcard to him at 22 Ashland Street (Floor 2), Somerville, MA 02144-3202.

Then send us a copy of your reprint.

You may give ó or sell ó the reprints to anybody. Go distribute them on paper, on disk, or electronically by phone. The Guideís being distributed by thousands of teachers, consultants, and stores and translated to other languages. Join those folks! Add your own comments, call yourself a co-author, and become famous! Itís free!

Books on disks Instead of books printed on paper, you can request books printed on disks. For example, if youíre ordering 4 books, you can scribble this note on the coupo n: "Send 3 on paper and 1 on disk." Say which format you want: choose either "ASCII" or "Microsoft Word 6&7 for Windows".

Weíll send 1.44M disks. Theyíll help you write your own book and develop material to put on a computerized bulletin board.

If you get books on disk, get at least one book on paper since the disks do not contain our headlines, graphics, special symbols, special fonts, and printer drivers.

An independent company, Window Book, has printed some editions of this book on hypertext disks, which let you bounce t o different topics quickly. For details, phone them at 617-661-9515.

silly clip art

Preserved classics Youíre reading the 24th edition. Weíve also reprinted earlier editions, which include extra details about the famous old computers and softw are that became classics.

For example, weíve reissued the 19th edition (639 pages) and offer it for just $2. Weíve reprinted the 11th edition (a 750-page mammoth bound in 2 volumes) and offer it for just 20Ę per volume, 40Ę total.

Those insanely low prices are ideal for schools on tight budgets and for low-cost gifts to your friends. For details about those famous classic editions, ask us to send the free "classics memo and order form".

Blitz courses Russ gives his "blitz" course all over the world. Offered several times a year, it turns you into a complete computer expert in an intensive weeke nd.

Saturday (from 9AM to 9PM) covers the first five chapters: buyerís guide, operating systems, word processing, communication, and spreadsheets. Sunday (9AM to 5PM) covers the other four: databases, wild applications, programming, and end notes.

The entire 20-hour course costs just $50. Thatís just $2.50 per hour! To pay even less per person, form a group with your friends. For details, phone or use the back pageís coupon.

Strange stuff Weíre developing future editions, videotapes, and The Secret Guide to Tricky Living. Get on our mailing list by using the coupon on the back page. Ru ss answers questions about life ó everything from sex to skunks. Phone 617-666-2666 anytime!