The computer most be connected to a phone line via a modem or network with external communications capability. The modem or network communications link translates the electronic data from the telecommunications format into the computer and vice versa.
Terminal emulations software is available for both IBM compatible terminals and Macintosh. IBM-compatible software includes, for example: Crosstalk, Procomm, DIALOGLink, STN Express. Macintosh software includes, for example: Red Ryder, White Knight, Versaterm-Pro, STN Express.
An account must be established with each online service to obtain a password and receive documentation about searching on the service and searching databases available on the service.