What do you need to connect to the Internet?


To connect to the Internet, you need a minimum amount of equipment:

  1. A computer: at least a 386 IBM-compatible PC running Windows 3.1 or Windows95 or an Apple Macintosh running System 7.1 or better; at least 4 MB of RAM (8 MB is preferred); and a hard drive with at least 6 MB of available storage space for the software.
  2. A modem: at least 14.4 kbps. The current standard for dial-up access is 28.8 kbps.
  3. Cables for connecting your modem to the computer and to your telephone line.


You will also need to obtain and install the following software in your computer:

  1. An application which dials the modem and establishes your connection with an access provider. For IBM-compatible PCs, popular "winsocks" (short for "windows socket") are Trumpet and Chameleon (also known as Newt). For the Mac, you'll need two pieces of software: MacTCP and MacPPP.
  2. An application for sending, receiving and organizing e-mail. A popular program available as freeware or commercially for either PCs or Macs is called Eudora.
  3. An application for viewing web pages and their graphics. The most widespread application in use is Netscape. Others are Mosaic and Microsoft Explorer.
  4. Separate applications for reading newgroups (although Netscape works fine doing this), sending and receiving files using file transfer protocol (or FTP), and "telnetting" to remote computers are also useful but not necessary to get started.

An alternative to the above procedure is to subscribe to an online commercial service such as America Online or CompuServe, which provide their own software and unique connections to the Internet. However, for many people these are costly options and a growing number of people are using the service of a local Internet Access Provider (also known as Internet Service Providers, or ISPs).


Internet Access Providers are like phone companies designed solely to link your computer with the network of computers called the Internet. Generally, these providers have a direct connection to the Internet's "backbone" by means of very high-speed lines. They then lease dedicated lines from the local phone company and sell you a subscription to use these lines to connect to their computers. The advantage is usually un-timed access with a local phone call, a much cheaper option than commercial online services which charge hourly rates. In the near future, expect to see cable television companies entering the arena with access to the Internet by way of the coaxial cables you may already have in your home. Thsi promises an exceptionally fast connection compared to today's 28.8 kbps modems.

For now, many Vermonters use local access providers such as SoVerNet.

For information on other access providers and on connectivity issues, try:

Yahoo Resources about Connectivity

Get Connected from PC Magazine.

The List, a directory of over 2,700 internet access providers nationwide.

How to Select an Internet Service Provider

Free-Nets and Community Networks

The Ultimate Winsock Applications page , a set of links to software for Windows users.

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