Communications software packages solve a variety of laboratory computer problems. They let incompatible computers talk to each other, for example, and they allow scientists to access laboratory computers from home or in the field. While I haven’t found any single program that will solve all my lab’s communications needs, a combination of two or three fairly inexpensive packages should be the answer for most labs.

In my toxicity testing laboratory, when we need to transfer files from one incompatible model of a computer to another, from our vintage 8-bit Quay to our spanking new 32-bit Dell-386, for example, we rely on Mastercom, a product of the Software Store of Marquette, Mich. At $75, Mastercom is probably the least expensive communications program one can buy, and versions are available for almost all models of CP/M-80 and MS-DOS computers.

Mastercom is easy to use with menus, prompts, and defaults for even the...

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