Necessity fathers a computer program Store owner writes software


Larry Piper couldn't find a "cash register" computer program that suited him.

So three years ago, the owner of Basically Computers in Westminster started to write his own.

Now the program is being carried by 450 computer dealers nationwide and has been recognized as a "problem solver" by Microsoft and Small Business Technologies. Both national computer companies are referring clients seeking cash register programs to the Carroll corporation.

"None of them met my needs very well," said Larry Piper of other cash register programs he tried for his 11-year-old computer business and his family's retail liquor outlet in Manchester. "Now we have something that is better than anything else on the market.

"One thing we have going for us is that we use newer technology," he said. In contrast, other programs are older and use technology that may be outdated for current computers.

In addition to simple addition of orders, the program -- written for any IBM or IBM-compatible computer -- keeps inventory records, reads bar codes and will process credit card orders, Mr. Piper said.

The program also will prepare tax reports, print balance sheets and analyze profits and losses.

"It's modifiable, so we can meet the needs of any customers," said Mr. Piper's son, Curtis, who is in charge of sales.

The software costs $595 for the single cash register version. A multiple register version, complete with the source codes that allow another computer programmer to modify the system, costs $1,195.

Customers can also purchase specific supplementary programs, such as an ordering program for stationery stores, a program for music stores that sell and rent instruments and one for marinas. Each was developed while meeting the needs of current clients, Curtis Piper said.

"Kelly's [Stationery Store in Westminster] needed something to tie in with their package," he said. "The marina package grew out of a dealer who has three or four marinas that he is trying to sell to."

A bimonthly newsletter keeps clients up to date on new options and changes that have been made to the program.

"This is being used by a wide variety of businesses," Larry Piper said. "It can be used with one register, to up to five or 10 registers."

Also, the program can be adjusted for chain stores that are connected by computer phone networks, he said.

Response to the program has been very positive, the Pipers said. Employees have sent out several hundred copies of a 10-minute promotional video and have fielded requests from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guam and Greece.

"We're getting in three or four orders a day, which is very nice," said Curtis Piper. "We've had tremendous sales. Dad's real happy."

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