We consider how to optimize memory use and computation time in operating a quantum computer. In particular, we estimate the number of memory quantum bits (qubits) and the number of operations required to perform factorization, using the algorithm suggested by Shor [in Proceedings of the 35th Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, edited by S. Goldwasser (IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos, CA, 1994), p. 124]. A K-bit number can be factored in time of order K3 using a machine capable of storing 5K+1 qubits. Evaluation of the modular exponential function (the bottleneck of Shor's algorithm) could be achieved with about 72K3 elementary quantum gates; implementation using a linear ion trap would require about 396K3 laser pulses. A proof-of-principle demonstration of quantum factoring (factorization of 15) could be performed with only 6 trapped ions and 38 laser pulses. Though the ion trap may never be a useful computer, it will be a powerful device for exploring experimentally the properties of entangled quantum states.