We can hope that maybe someday US phone companies or cable tv companies
will recognize a market in supplying ethernet or equivalent to homes
-- it can be done and a few places are doing it. Until then it is
possible to hobble along with telephone dialups and high speed modems,
9600 baud or greater (I'd recommend the 14000 baud at ~ US$300 for those
who haven't bought a modem yet, or have one at 2400 or slower).
SLIP, as Steve mentioned, is a means for serial line access to the Internet.
It requires special software at both ends of the telephone connection.
Once you have SLIP set up, you can usually use the same network programs
that you use with a regular ethernet connection. PPP (point to point
protocol) is similar to SLIP, and is or will be its successor.
Several universities and organizations provide a SLIP service thru their
dialup terminal servers (hardware). It is also possible to connect a
phone & modem to a Unix computer, and run some free software on that Unix
box to provide SLIP service (that is how my home and office computers
are networked just now). Setting up SLIP service at both ends can be
tricky and is best left to computer experts.
Those how may be interested in how to set up a Unix computer as a SLIP
server can find a few free programs and instructions via gopher or ftp to
If you have a SLIP server that you can dial in to, you will need SLIP
client software on your home computer. If that home computer happens
to be Unix, you can find free or built in slip client soft. For Macintosh
home computers, you will need to purchase a SLIP client, in the US$50 to
$100 range. Two clients that work well are VersaTerm SLIP (included
with a full telecomm program package) and MacSLIP (less expensive, SLIP
only). The gopher/ftp location above has information on these. For
MSDos computers, I haven't enough experience to give advice. I believe
there may be free slip client software though.
There are now several commercial providers of SLIP and related dialup
access to the Internet around the US. For a fee you can dialup from
your home computer and become an internet node. The only one of these
that comes to mind is MSEN, in Michigan. They have a Gopher server,
so if you want details of their service, use Gopher to MSEN and poke
around in their documents. I think their fee is something like
$20 to $50 per month, plus 1-5? dollars per hour use == roughly
equivalent to prices in the early days of CompuServe, Delphi, etc.
The commercial providers can sell you a complete package of client
software for Internet use.
For Macintosh users, there is an easier way to at least some network
services. If you have two Macs connected thru modems & phones, you can
install Appletalk Remote Access, sold by Apple, on them pretty easilty.
This will give your home mac full access to Appletalk network services
that are available to your office Mac. One drawback is that, currently,
Internet services (via TCP/IP) are not automatically provided thru ARA.
Again, your organization's computing services people can add hardware/software
to provide Internet access thru ARA. Also especially with ARA, you want
to have the fastest modems possible. 2400 baud is too slow for this.
Don Gilbert gilbert at bio.indiana.edu
biocomputing office, biology dept., indiana univ., bloomington, in 47405