Donny Osmond on technology -- The singer/talk show host talks about his first computer, his favorite sites, and answering email

He’s not just a little bit country and a little bit rock &amp roll: Donny Osmond’s pretty darn Net smart, too. Yes, the man who graced TV screens across America as one half of Donny and Marie in the ’70s can talk serious Geek-speak, whether answering fans’ questions at his website, reading e-mail on his new syndicated talk show Donny &amp Marie, or chatting with ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

On his first computer
My first computer was a Tandy Model 100. It was the first little laptop that ever came out. It had 300 baud and I was amazed it had 64K of memory. I wrote my own programs. I never took any course at school; I was self-taught. I took the manual that came with it and learned BASIC on my own, through trial and error. That would have been around 1976. I was downloading stuff from BBSes [bulletin board systems]. I would download government documents, anything I could get my hands on.

On his favorite sites
I do research on the guests who are coming in. I’ll go to Yahoo! and to an interesting search engine called All4One where you can get four search engines going at one time. Or I’ll go to Mr. Showbiz or E! Online. For instance last night, on Michael York, I found a profile of all the movies he did, a lot of Austin Powers stuff, so I went there and it expanded out to other things.

On being above AOL
For the layman, it’s wonderful to have something like America Online, where they take care of everything for you. That’s fine; I’m on there as well. But I rarely use that alone. I like to get onto Netscape and do my own thing.

On answering e-mail
I constantly download my [website’s] guest book onto my computer, and when I’m on the plane — commuting every weekend from Utah to Los Angeles — I answer these guest-book entries [e-mail questions]. And then when I get back home to the office, I upload them. I get them from all over the world, which goes back to my early career, since I used to travel all over and the first Donny and Marie show was worldwide.

On his high-tech home
It’s hard to be away from my wife and kids, so I put ISDN lines in both my office and my home. When I call home, I use the Intel videophone. And if I do it through the Internet, I won’t be charged [long distance].

On his kids going online
I limit it. We have America Online at the house. And you know how they have the parental controls? I definitely keep those on — not for my older teenagers [Donald, 19; Jeremy, 17]. There’s an amount of trust you have to give your older teenagers, but for the younger ones [Brandon, 13; Christopher, 7; Joshua, 9 months] [access] is limited.

Is Marie cybersavvy?
In a word: No.