Surfing the Web with Low Memory Macs

1999 – My old Mac has the maximum RAM in it (or the maximum that I will install). I have 4-14 MB. What options do I have for Internet access?

Platinum Mac PlusAs pointed out by Julie Fugett in Getting an Old Mac Running (Oct. 26, 1999), which covered Web access, 16 MB is the tolerable minimum that one can have for graphical Web browsers – ones that display images. While it is nice to look at pretty pictures, it can be somewhat of a distraction when one is doing archival research. In some cases, people will shut off the graphic viewer portion of Netscape or Internet Explorer to speed up the information transfer process.

For a number of low-end Macs like the 68000-based compacts and monochrome screen PowerBooks, the Web browser of choice is Lynx. Lynx is a text based browser that allows one to select topics of interest through a number of menus.

Lynx can be downloaded from sites such as the Lynx site. Lynx is useful for those who are setting up a BBS (Bulletin Board Service) where one dials in.

Most of the time, classic Mac users do not have to download Lynx in order to use it. In most cases, Lynx is the standard browser that is used for Unix shell-based Freenets that have been set up around the country and other parts of the world.

Freenets are the great equalizers for Internet access. As the name implies, it costs nothing to join (other than an occasional small donation). For those individuals that use second-hand computer equipment with older modems or otherwise lack access to a high-speed data link, the Freenets are one of the few ways to access to the Internet. This is especially true for rural parts of the US or the developing Third World.

Best of all, Freenets do not require much in terms of computer power for access. A 1 or 2 MB Mac Plus with a modem and a terminal emulation program like Red Ryder or Z-Term will suffice.

Keywords: #textbrowser #freenet

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