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Communicating Computer to Computer

­Stan Gelber

Three things are required for computers to communicate with each other and use the Internet (which is simply your computer communicating with a network of Internet host computers):
  1. Hardware devices such as modems or ISDN interfaces
  2. Software such as your WEB browser or a modem communications program like the Windows 95 Dialer program
  3. An ISDN or standard dialup telephone line.


Three types of modems and ISDN adapters exist:
  1. Integrated (installed internally in your computer)
  2. Stand-alone (a separate component cabled to your computer)
  3. PC card (credit card size devices that plug into a slot on your PC).
You need to know the model and type of this device because it must be defined to the software.


Software is required for computer to computer communications, and over the years software design advances has made it simpler to install and configure. Most communications software including Windows only requires that you specify what type of modem or ISDN interface (who made it and its model number) you are using, and the maximum speed it will support. Some other parameters do exist, but unless the computer you are connecting to has special requirements, your software's default values should work. The software defaults include:
  • 8 bits
  • One start and stop bit
  • No parity bit.
If the computer you are connecting to has other requirements, it is easy to change the values in the software using the configuration menus.

While you can use almost any communications program to access the Internet, you will only see text unless you use a web browser program. Browser programs allow you to view the graphics and text in a graphical environment. Most web browsers also include capabilities to access Gopher service (a text based service), FTP (file transfer capabilities for copying programs to you computer), e-mail capabilities, and several other services.

Phone Line

Most computers can use a standard dial-up telephone line, just like what your telephone uses and referred to within the phone industry as POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). This level of standard phone service can technically support speeds up to 56 k/bps. But about the fastest connection you can get in most areas is 26.400 bps or 33.300 bps because the telephone lines have too much noise for higher speeds. For those needing greater speeds, ISDN lines are available in most areas of the world that support 128 k/bps. Even faster phone lines (called T1 and T3) are also available, but at prices exceeding $1,000 per month, are not a serious consideration for most individuals.

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