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Chapter 25. You've Got Mail! > - Pg. 286

You've Got Mail! 286 Welcome to the Future The Internet is a vast computer network of computer networks. It's composed of people, hardware, and software. With the proper equipment, you can sit at your computer and communicate with someone at any place in the world as long as that person also has the proper equipment. Let's focus first on equipment. Word Watch A modem is a communication device that enables a computer to transmit information over a standard telephone line. Basic Internet access is possible with any computer that has a modem connected to a telephone line. However, it's recommended that unless you want to spend days cooling your heels as you get online, you have the following basics: · At least 8 megabytes of RAM · A 250-megabyte hard drive · A 14.4 modem (28.8 or faster is better, because the speed of your modem is critical to your ability to get on the Internet) An Internet Service Provider ( ISP ) is a company that provides access to the Internet. The best- known ISPs are the commercial online services such as America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy, and MSN. However, many national companies such as AT&T and MCI, as well as regional and local companies, provide Internet access. ISPs usually charge a monthly subscription rate and offer un- limited access to e-mail. Check with your public library, too, because many offer free Internet access from your own home, through their own ISPs. Professional organizations such as IEEE (an engineering group) also pro- vide Internet access for little or no fee. What's Your Address? Internet mail uses a hierarchical system of names to make sense of the millions of computers served. The name of each computer (or "domain") contains at least two words or abbreviations and at most five, separated by periods, with the top of the hierarchy at the right. Here's the Internet address of the president: Here's what it means: · "president" is the recipient's personal mailbox. · "whitehouse" is the organization, company, and so on. · ".gov" shows the type of organization. For example, .gov is government, .com is commer- cial, .edu is education, .int is an international organization, .mil is the military, and .org is a nonprofit organization (see Chapter 19, "Cast a Critical Eye," for a list of suffixes).