Getting on the Internet requires:
- Computer and Monitor
- Modem
- Telephone Line
- Internet Service Provider (ISP)
- Communications Software


- Computer and Monitors
-
Computers and Monitors Computer and Monitor Basics

Buying a New Machine

Common Computer Models

Resources


- Computer and Monitor Basics

To access the Web, a computer must have, at the bare minimum, 16 megabytes of RAM and a color monitor displaying at least 256 colors. There are ways to get around these minimums; if you don't have a color monitor, you can still get online with an e-mail and text-only Web browser, such as Lynx.

Two important things that will affect a computer's ability to help you move around effectively online are:

Processor speed/clock speed -- In advertisements, you'll read about Pentium machines or Power Macs running at 500 megahertz -- but what does that mean?

"Pentium" and "Power PC" primarily refer to the processor chip or central processing unit (CPU) of the computer. The processor performs all the computational tasks, or instructions, that are invisible to us when we change the font in a word processing document or draw a line in a paint program. As processors become increasingly efficient they are able to process an increasing number of instructions and our computers -- in conjunction with software -- are seen as being capable of doing more and more sophisticated work faster.

Processors preform these instructions under a time frame, or cycle. These cycles are measured in megahertz, or millions of cycles per second. This is known as clock speed. As processors become increasingly efficient, the time it takes to complete a cycle becomes shorter, and computers work faster and faster.

So a computer with a clock speed of 200 megahertz may not be as fast as another machine with a more efficient processor running at 180 megahertz. The answer to "how fast is that computer?" is a combination of processor and clock speed.

Quantity of RAM -- RAM (Random Access Memory) is the amount of "processing space" your computer has to accomplish a computational task.

Measured in megabytes (or MBs), the more RAM you have, the better; RAM will effect the speed at which your applications run, in addition to allowing you the option of running several applications simultaneously. Also note that newer versions of system software and Web browsers require more and more RAM.

Note Don't confuse the size of your hard drive with the amount of RAM in your machine. While both are measured in megabytes, your hard drive is primarily storage space; RAM is processing space.


- Buying a New Machine

With computer processor speeds and clock speeds increasing at an exponential pace, it's a common reaction to hesitate when considering purchasing a computer. But because this feverish pace shows no sign of slowing down, you should purchase a computer when you need one. We suggest buying a machine with the fastest processor and clock speed you can afford.

Recognize that at some point you might want to upgrade the computer you're purchasing; most new computers will allow you to expand both hard drive capacity and RAM, connect other devices like printers and external drives, and accommodate new add-ons such as video or processor upgrade boards.

Common Computer Models

The following list includes some of the common computer makes and models and their Internet access capabilities:

PC -- 386, 486, 5x86, and Pentium and compatibles (compatibles may include the 6x86, K5, or K6 chips)
Capabilities: Full Internet access
Limitations: Need at least 24 megabytes RAM to run Web browsers.

PC -- 286 and earlier
Capabilities: Text-only Internet -- e-mail and Lynx
Limitations: Will not run graphics-based Web browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer.

Macintosh -- G4, G3, Power PC, Performa, II
Capabilities: Full Internet access
Limitations: Need at least 24 megabytes RAM to run Web browsers.

Macintosh -- Classic, Plus, SE, and other black-and-white screens
Capabilities: Text-only Internet -- e-mail and Lynx
Limitations: Will not run graphics-based Web browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer.
-

Major Computer Makers
Go to the following computer manufacturers' home pages to be directed to information on educational discounts.
 

Apple Computer
For information on educational discounts,
go directly to Apple's
education section


Compaq Computer Corporation.
 

Dell Computer Corporation
For information on educational discounts, go directly to Dell's education section.


Gateway 2000
 

IBM


Hewlett-Packard
 

Toshiba


Hitachi

Internet Primer
Thirteen Ed Online
Thirteen