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Not a Computer In Sight

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DURHAM — When you live near Research Triangle Park, it seems just about everybody is plugged in to the latest technology. But there are some folks who still do things the old-fashioned way.

A Durham man, for instance, runs his business with little more than a pen and paper.

There aren't many of Doug Riley's breed, and he might put some people in mind of a dinosaur. He runs an eyeglass repair shop in downtown Durham. And he runs his business without using a computer.

"I don't sell new eyeglasses so I don't have patient records to keep track of," Riley says.

The records he does have are handwritten, and stored in file folders. An accountant does his books twice a year. The rest of the time he just uses a calculator.

"Cash receipts, there's a cash receipt for the postage. You just take the receipt total them up and put them in," Riley noted.

Riley says not having a computer makes his life easier. He recently fixed a pair of eyeglasses for Bernie Stewart. She also owns a business -- but runs hers entirely by computer. She can't imagine life without one. "I'd have no business. I really wouldn't. I can't imagine it," Stewart says.

Riley runs a small shop. His only supplies are half a dozen cutting, buffing and polishing tools. His inventory consists of tiny screws and hinges, so there isn't much to keep track of. Riley says he'd like to own a computer one day but it won't be put to use in his workshop.

"I would like to try to get a nice computer ultimately and explore the Internet. I think that would be neat," Riley says.

But with no computer Riley is one person who doesn't have to worry about the millennium bug.

Of course, most people are not following Doug Riley's trend. One study showed that 92 percent of business owners in urban areas own computers.


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