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


Modems (an abbreviation of modulator-demodulator) are the devices that let your computer talk to other computers via phone lines.

Computers converse digitally in zeros and ones. The voice conversation that you have over a telephone line is analog. If you want to use a phone line to transfer computer information, you need to use a modem.

As with computers themselves, speed is the most important feature when purchasing a modem; it is directly related to faster or slower access to the Internet. You should purchase the fastest modem you can afford -- one that runs at at least 33,600 bps (a.k.a. "a 33.6 modem"). Modems slower than 33.6 will greatly affect your enjoyment of non-text elements (graphics, video, animation, audio) on the Web.

If your Internet Service Provider supports modem speeds of 56,600 bps, you may want to invest in this faster modem. Even if your ISP does not provide 56.6K access yet, all faster modems can also run at slower speeds and could be useful when higher speed access becomes more available over the phone lines.

Many newer computers come with built-in modems. If you're unsure if you have an internal modem, check your manual or ask your computer support person.

Internet Primer
Thirteen Ed Online