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Your personal modem history, what was it like?

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#1 Keatah OFFLINE  


    Missile Commander

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Posted Fri Nov 9, 2018 11:34 PM

Let us give vintage modems some love. Like printers, these often despised and evil peripherals got their name from being slow and causing our systems to be tied up for hours on end. But they also allowed the beginnings of digital telecom for the home. They enabled services such as The Source, Compuserve, Prodigy, early America Online, and personal BBS'es. Even practical personal banking. And that's not to mention the professional/industrial uses. And they would usher in the internet.


So what was your personal modem history, what was it like? What modem(s) did you have back in the day? Tell us some stories and list what you owned.


Hayes Micromodem II

..for my Apple II in the 70's and very early 80's. It ran at 110/300 baud (Bell 103 standard) and came in two pieces, an internal card and an external electrical coupler/relay box. Not an acoustic coupler. It came with a nice manual that was practically a tutorial on telecommunications. Today it great nostalgic reference.


I did tons of wardialing with this spent many a quiet-evening into the early hours watching it dial out. The little red light flashing on and off to indicate off-hook status. It was equally thrilling to sit around and read astronomy books while WaReZ would come in from some far off distant, nebulous land, which only had form in our imaginations. It took somewhere between 1.25 - 1.50 hours to transfer a full Apple II floppy. Or in perhaps more familiar terms. 1 minute to send Atari VCS Combat cartridge. Or a full day for a ~3MB digital photo.


Things like X-Modem, Y-Modem, or Z-Modem were important. Because the amount of ACK they would or wouldn't do - some were faster in some situations. Some would require a restart at the 11th hour when a disk was almost done. Some would auto-restart from the last packet. And some worked better at certain times of the day/night when the lines were "clear".


There were little or no hacks for this modem. Nor did it become "famous" and desired like the future Apple-Cat II. But many programs did support it as a matter of default. In fact I always thought most modems were well supported back in the day.


Some innovative software like DFX II had been written with this modem in mind. This would allow two-way realtime typing while a transfer happened in the background. It also allowed you to transfer Hi-Res pictures and see them as they arrived. It took many minutes to see it form on the screen however.


And of course there was the venerable workhorse of ASCII Express, known as AE. It was nice terminal, and pirates found out how to make AE Lines out of it. Basically it was a simple BBS that let you catalog/send/receive files remotely. AutoAnswer, leave message, and ChatSysop were other basic functions. All a pirate would ever need BITD.


I had lots of imaginary fun with this modem, like calling the Voyager 2 spacecraft directly! I even built circuits to help me do that. And trying to use it as a voice-recognition card and goldfish communicator. And it was fun to write stories about it all. Hey! I was a kid then! This modem was responsible for some $400 phone bills. And for launching lots of imaginary flights of fancy. But I did call into JPL for real and got pictures from Voyager 2 that way.


Novation Apple-Cat II

I recall getting this for the Apple II+ and //e sometime in 1980 or 1981. From Northbrook Computers. I explained to my parents that the lines would be less tied up and I could finish more quickly. I picked this modem because I liked the name. Second only to speed. Little did I know it would have a cult following with all kinds of hackers writing all kinds of amusing tools and utilities for it - including a music player, a sound recorder, a voice recognition card, DTMF encoder-decoder, BOX simulator, and even a realtime accurate clock that worked off the timing of the modem circuitry. This pseudo-clock was a step above a software clock which lost accuracy during disk access. It was a step below a real clock card because it lost time when powered off. But it was FREE!! And clock cards made your BBS "elite" back in the day. To see current time on the screen was near magical!


Moving up to 1200 baud (half-duplex) was a godsend, and despite being only half-duplex it worked well. Game trading was usually a one-direction affair anyways. And 300 or 1200 baud was fine for text purposes anyways.


As I read through the manual and examined the card I found it had all sorts of connections on it. It had 2 empty slots for chips like DTMF and Hayes-like firmware. I got the firmware right away. But the DTMF decoder would come later because of cost. I rather quickly upgraded this with the 212 expansion card. This allowed full-duplex Bell 212 communications, 1200 baud both ways simultaneously! Incredible.


It had a handset connector for voice/talk. It had an RS-232 connector for external RS-232 port. A tape-recorder controller, BSR interface, and of course the 212 card connector. And possibly more I'm forgetting at this very second.


That's a lot of stuff. Not only could I expand the host computer as usual, I could expand its telecom subsystem.


This became a workhorse modem for me and it was supported by plenty of hacker-written tools, many of which were nicely done. And ProTerm supported it along with ASCII Express.


SupraModem 2400

I got this modem likely sometime in the 1986-1987 timeframe. Right after I got the Amiga 500. I got it not because I wanted speed, but because I wanted a way to get Amiga games. It never worked out like for the Apple II. Nor was it as magical or inspiring. I was out of high-school by then and my network of Apple II buddies quickly dissipated. And there were little or no local BBS numbers to call. By this time I couldn't get away with $500 phone bills anymore either. And so this modem didn't see a lot of usage.


It was 2400 baud of course, and it was noticeably faster especially with Z-Modem protocol. And that I found intriguing. I was unclear if it did data compression or not, but Z-Modem was quicker than the X or Y protocols.


It was my first all-serial-interface and external modem and thus felt somewhat less integrated than the Apple II solutions. It felt somewhat disconnected from everything (no pun intended). It was my first real introduction to the AT-command set. And to a kid discovering cars and women, it was rather hard to concentrate on learning it all. And most Amiga telecom packages (being new too) didn't always get it right. Nor did the packages handle any Supra specific registers or codes. It was barely enough to dial out and get "online". The whole Amiga telecom experience was rather disjointed and I felt that none of the pieces truly fit together. There was a lot of extraneous "stuff" that didn't apply. There was a lot of bloat and useless things. Things that only a freeware author could love. I didn't like all-of-a-sudden having to deal with the AT command set. Never had that nonsense before on the Apple II.


It was a solidly built and reliable modem however. And I liked the row of status lights. I wished my first two modems had such a display. All in all it was the right modem paired to the wrong machine.


Practical Peripherals PM14400FX

In 1992/1993 when I was getting going with the MS-DOS world and PCs in earnest I got my first PC, it was a 486 from Gateway 2000. A rather nice IBM-PC clone. I remember I had to keep the price around $2,100 and no more. So therefore I did not get a modem with it, or even a soundcard or videocard. I would get those as the system arrived. I got the videocard first. A massive 1MB Cirrus Logic 5422 based board, the memory was massive not the board. Well..


My SupraModem 2400 filled in till I could get something internal for the machine. I always liked internal modems for some reason or other. Probably because I grew up with them on the Apple II. And they felt integrated and part of the machine.


One bright sunny day I would come home from CompUSA with this PM14400FX. You may have guessed it was a 14.4K baud modem. I had found my dream modem! It did everything all my other modems had done and more. And it was internal and fit in a standard ISA slot. I farted around with some shareware terminals, and they were pretty good. This PM modem handled it all and the Hayes AT-command set seemed well supported on the terminal and the hardware side. I was BBS'ing in no time. There were tons of PC-based boards to call. And 14.4K baud even let me call long distance for short amounts of time, expanding my choices even further all the while keeping connection costs down below $200.


I liked this modem because it felt all-integrated, it was not one of the yet-to-come winmodems. And it had a simulated on-screen LED status display. I eventually somehow got ProComm Plus and it was like having a full-blown modem control center. A central-ops kind of thing. Not unlike how I dreamed about having on the Apple II. I did lots of online one-on-one gaming with Doom and Duke3D. All the AT-command codes were handled behind the scenes.


The box and packaging were great. A full color pic of the actual modem on the front, and all the specifications and features on the back. Something you do not find today.


Minus the magic and glory of a child's imagination this modem did everything I expected and more. This modem had some of the best user documentation I had seen to date. And being in the PC ecosphere it was supported by everything.


Supra Express 56K Modem

This was one of my fastest and last modems I would purchase. The Practical Peripherals modem made no mention of the internet, and that in 1992/1993. In 1997/1998 this 56K modem mentioned it all over the box, but not as flamboyantly as some of the consumer-grade U.S. Robotics stuff did.


I liked this modem, because again, it was feature-complete. It supported all the protocols like V. and Bell all the way back to 300 baud. Not that I was doing much with 300 baud in 1997. I got this modem because it was piled sky-high in BigBox, right near the door too. Imagine that today! Anyways, I had tried doing internet on the 14.4 modem, but too slow. This new 56.6 modem handled America Online seemingly just fine. And I kept it in service to about 2001/2002 at which point I got a cable modem.


As the internet was getting underway, there were three standards for speed. This modem supported all the old standards and K56Flex and V90. But not X2 which was a USR standard. I could handle having three standards but it seemed like the first annoying break in PC compatibility (in the consumer arena). Some products supported either K56Flex or V90 or X2. I suppose I was lucky to get one that could upgrade to V90. And eventually V90 became widely accepted.


I'm sure standards competed in other aspects and subsystems of the PC ecosphere, but this was one noted by everyday consumers more than ever.


I loved AOL, it introduced me to the internet. And every one of the categories I clicked on was one big adventure after another. After than I pretty much stopped bothering with individual BBSes and therefore didn't do many file transfers at 56K speeds.


It was the last traditional phone-line modem I bought.



By now the modem had become a necessary commodity and the industry looked at ways to integrate modems into laptop motherboards and such. And they started showing up as $29 riser-type cards. Thus was born the "Winmodem". A bastardized hybrid mix of software and hardware - a little before its time. They relied on the main CPU to do a lot of the timing and protocol handling, and all that remained was physical interface to the phone line. And they required OS specific drivers and layers. A "softmodem" if you will. And it took a noticeable amount of CPU power (back then) to run them. Today it wouldn't be a problem, and we have "soft" LAN, Sound, and many other things taken over by software in lieu of dedicated hardware. Or rather hardware on the CPU & Chipset itself.


My first two modems were genuinely magical, the Hayes Micromodem II and Apple-Cat II. Magical because a whole new world of technology was opening up. As time went on, they became less magical and more commonplace.


Eventually in 2001-2002 I would get a cablemodem and at that point paid no attention to QAM or any sort of protocol layers, OSI layers, or anything technical. Plugged it in and it was gofast.


A few years back I purchased a few of the vintage USR modems, ones I wanted as a kid and never could afford. Just cool to have, cool to look at and contemplate. Same thing with some of the iconic Aluminum ingot Hayes SmartModems.

#2 shoestring OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:13 AM

First modem was a US Robotics 9600 Sportster. By sending some init strings to it, it would then support the 16.8k HST/DS. I still have this modem.

Second was a US Robotics Courier v.everything. 


 Amiga sysops loved them.

#3 tschak909 ONLINE  


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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:32 AM

First modem, Hayes 80-103, S-100 modem, which needed a Data Access Arrangement from Bell which required the rental of a special termination box, which had a notch filter in it, and some isolation circiutry. This connected directly to the modem via a header block.


Next modem, MicroPeripherals Micro-Connection, neat modem, had tape loop jacks so you could record modem transmissions and play them back.


Next modem, Hayes Smartmodem 300, also got a Hayes Chronograph during this period. Nice real time clock!


Next modem, a Hayes Smartmodem 1200.


Next modem, a USRobotics Courier (the first Courier was a 2400 baud modem, their 1200bps modems were called Password, which I looked at, but went with the Hayes), the Courier brought over all the niceties of the Smartmodem, for half the cost.


Next modem was a USRobotics Courier HST, which I got through the SYSOP deal, arguably the smartest thing USR ever did, and was single handedly responsible for wiping Hayes off the map, because their V-Series modem simply could not compete. Through this deal, I got my next five modems at ridiculous discounts, eventually ending with the HST/V.34 hybrid Courier in 1994. 


I stayed with Courier modems through their 56K series, until late 1998, when I got my first high-speed SDSL connection. I skipped over ISDN (even though I had used ISDN in some special cases, the data transmission advantages were minimal, and only really made sense for isochronous traffic like teleconferencing, which has only really become viable as a day to day use in the last decade.) 



#4 CaptainBreakout OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:44 AM

What a write up! I have to admit, the specifics for what modems did what in my meatspace has gotten a bit blurry since the time.

After returning from a computer show, the big take-home highlight was a 2400 baud modem for the IIgs. I don't recall details like model numbers. But I do remember hours with Delphi, GEnie, and early encounters with AOL.

Was there an Apple II version of AOL or am I imaginging things?

I remember GSOS 6 looking promising again... For a minute. Lots of neat things like online MOD music, some nifty demos from FTA and Brutal Deluxe, and shareware from Brian Greenstone and a few others. Good times.

I'm surprised I don't remember my hardware setup. I haven't given much thought to the primordial world of pre-pc online um... "Internet". It seemed so chaotic and fleeting. I do remember one had to be careful that one never dial up during "prime hours" or you faced outrageous per minute charges. Parents would shut down yer ops.

Edited by CaptainBreakout, Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:49 AM.

#5 RodLightning ONLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:47 AM

Atari 1030


My first modem purchased to use with my first Atari computer, a 600XL with 64kb upgrade.  Imagine my surprise/frustration when I learned that the built-in terminal software supplied with this 300 baud device did not support any kind of file transfer.  I waited nearly a month for a Antic Magazine disk copy with 1030 Express to arrive via US Mail.  I didn't know anyone locally yet to get software, so dialing a BBS was my only source.  I got my first BBS numbers from Computer Shopper magazine, all out-of town numbers.  Once I had 1030 Express, I could start downloading games and applications from the boards.  Funny thing was that I had to dial long distance at first to find Atari specific BBS. One day I dialed an out-of-town board and saw a BBS number that was a local call.  Calling into the one local BBS I knew about, led to other local numbers.  Before long, I had a half dozen local boards I could call and a much lower phone bill.  Two of them were Atari specific boards, The Sanitarium and Mental Aerodynamics (both with ATASCII graphics). The latter board was where I got an invitation to a local Atari user group meeting.  The guy who invited me, turned out to be a former neighbor who had moved across town years before.  We had both gotten into Atari computers separately,  Small world indeed.


Atari SX-212


This was a bit better experience because I already had good software downloaded from a BBS and was also in contact with other local Atarians by that time.  The SX-212 was rated at 1200 kbps and had Atari SIO connectivity like the 1030 and also sported an industry standard 25pin RS-232 port for use with other computers besides Atari 8-bits.  It also supported the Hayes command set.  I went on to use my SX-212 with the ST before upgrading to a 2400 kbps modem.  During these years I volunteered to be a sub-op on a couple of local PCBoards, where I helped create and maintain Atari download areas and message boards.  Sadly, those sections outlasted the Atari run bulletin board systems as popularity increased for PC clones and declined for other computers.


Emerson 2400 (can't remember specific model)


This was the last external modem I used with Atari before building a 386SX PC and using a internal 14400 kbps modem card for BBSing.

It was also a Hayes clone. Nobody I knew back then could afford or wanted to pay for a genuine Hayes Smart Modem.  My Emerson did the job during the time I used it, probably no more than 3 years before I switched to the 386SX (Windows3.1 & MS-DOS) for all telecommunications.  I did continue to download Atari software for the ST and sometimes the 8-bit with the PC, transferring software via xmodem/ymodem and null modem cable to either Atari.  I had my ICD P: R: connection to use with 850 Express on the 600XL (and a 48k 400 I had acquired).  Sending files to the ST was easier due to the built-in serial port and IBM compatible floppy drive.


That's the way things worked in those days.  If the internet had been in every household back then, I would never have gone through that learning experience from age 15 on to mid 20s.  I would also probably never met many interesting people or ever attended a local computer club meeting.  What a loss that would have been.

#6 atarian1 OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:48 AM


By now the modem had become a necessary commodity and the industry looked at ways to integrate modems into laptop motherboards and such. And they started showing up as $29 riser-type cards. Thus was born the "Winmodem". A bastardized hybrid mix of software and hardware - a little before its time. They relied on the main CPU to do a lot of the timing and protocol handling, and all that remained was physical interface to the phone line. And they required OS specific drivers and layers. A "softmodem" if you will. And it took a noticeable amount of CPU power (back then) to run them. Today it wouldn't be a problem, and we have "soft" LAN, Sound, and many other things taken over by software in lieu of dedicated hardware. Or rather hardware on the CPU & Chipset itself.


Actually, this wasn't new. The Atari MegaST and Atari SLM Laser Printer bundle did the same thing years earlier - rely on the main CPU to do most of the print processing. This bypassed the traditional method of transferring everything from the computer CPU to the laser printer CPU and then printing it out. That was why the Atari ST DTP system was so fast. It could spit out the first page in 30 seconds compared to 5 minutes on a PC/Mac DTP system.


I thought WinModems were garbage because they offer no advantage over the external modem except slightly less clutter and a tiny price different. Big deal. :roll:


Anyway for my modem history...


I remember being introduced to BBSing from a family friend who showed us this thing called a "modem" that allowed computers to communicate over the phone lines. I don't remember what it was but it was 300 baud and was an SIO direct connect to the Atari 8-bits. Thought it was neat downloading files, posting messages, but from the beginning, I thought it was slow. It also hogged up the phone line so there were more than a few times that my parents picked up the phone and shouted at us when we would get off the phone. :P


Avatex 1200

I got my first modem at the West Coast Computer Faire. It was an Avatex 1200. We got it because it was $99 which was unheard of for a 1200 baud modem at the time. We rushed home to hook it up but unfortunately, we couldn't use it because we didn't realize it required an Atari 850 interface. Duh! :dunce:  After thinking we got a bargain, we were shocked at the additional cost of an 850 interface which I think cost $150-200 (can't remember), but all I remembered was that it cost more than the modem itself. Felt defeated until soon after that, ICD introduced the PR Connection. Only $80! :party: So started my enthusiasm for telecommunications. Luckily, the Bay Area had quite a few BBSes being in Silicon Valley and Atari HQ. For free local calls though, I think there were only 2 Atari BBSes in my free call zone. Spent countless hours on BBSes on my Atari 800 and brought it over to the ST when I bought one. Funny (or sad) story about this was that we were too impatient and  cheap to buy a standard RS232 modem cable (which cost $25-40), so we ended up butchering the Atari 8-bit modem cable by cutting off the 9-pin 850/PR Connection part and soldering/replacing it with a 25 pin port. After RS232 cables became cheap, I bought a quality-made RS232 cable for the ST and reconnected the 9-pin port back to the 8-bit cable.


The Avatex ended up being a very popular modem as I saw others across all the computer platforms buy them. I remember our user group making a group buy of about 25 modems for a discount of $72 each. I think I still have the club receipt too.


No Name 2400 Baud Modem

The next modem I got from a swap meet. It was a no-name brand, but it was a cheap $99 and I wanted to speed things up a bit. I think I joined GEnie at that point, and they charged the same rate for 1200 and 2400 baud, so I was wasting money using a 1200 baud modem on GEnie. One thing I remembered was this was a true "you get what you pay for". This modem worked most of the time, but sometimes it would be flaky. It really showed how bad it was built when I used it on a BBS. I could never get that modem to handshake reliably at login with incoming calls. It was hit and miss until I got my next modem.


Practical Peripherals PM14400FX

GEnie went 9600 baud and local BBSes went 14.4k, so I upgraded again. This time I bought this on sale at CompUSA for I think $99 again. (Do you see a theme in pricing? :lol:) I also started using a PC with my ST, so I had a switchbox between the two. My brother allowed me to use one of his AOL login accounts, so I did some online stuff there including limited internet.


Supra Express 56K Modem

Like many others including the Keatah, this was my last modem before moving to DSL. I spent more time on my PC because of the internet, and 56K was a bit faster than 14.4K. I don't remember the price, but wouldn't be surprised if it was $99 too. Not many memories here though...


#7 Flojomojo OFFLINE  


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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:53 AM

I must have had 4 or 5 modems in all, mostly attached to Macintoshes at first, but later as PC cards in my homemade computers. Even after getting DSL, I kept a modem attached for the occasional fax and as a CallerID log. I had vague dreams of taking big money from the frequent violators of the Do Not Call list.

I don't think there's a modem in my house anymore, working or not. I wouldn't know who to call with it if I did. It's somewhat sad, since I no longer care about tying up the phone line, and domestic long distance is free. But having an always-on, rock-solid, wireless internet connection that is thousands of times faster somehow makes up for it.

Being nostalgic about modems is like remembering your umbilical cord. It was really important once. It contributed to a few memories long ago. It is no longer needed, and no longer works.

#8 Casey OFFLINE  



  • 340 posts

Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:35 AM

The first modem I had was a Zoom 2400 baud modem hooked up to my Tandy 1000 RSX.  I do remember being happiest when seeing CONNECT 2400 MNP5 when dialing into a BBS because that always gave the fastest download speeds.  I had several other Zoom modems after that up to the 57.6k model before I switch to broadband.


After I went to college and the PC went with me, I picked up a new Commodore 1670 1200 baud modem for my Commodore 128 that stayed home and used that on the odd weekends when I was back home.

#9 20ohm20 OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:08 AM

A Texas Instruments portable terminal with built-in acoustic coupler and thermal printer circa 1979-1980 (my dad would bring it home from work once in a while and I'd "talk" to him with it)


Commodore VicModem (used with VIC-20 and C-64 before I owned a disk drive)

Some generic auto answer/dial 300 baud modem (MasterModem, I think?)

Commodore 1670 (ran a C-Net BBS with it for two years)


Apple Modem 1200 (purchased from a ComputerLand in Anaheim, CA along with a Super Serial Card on December 8th, 1984; still have the receipt and the CIB modem)


Some generic external 2400 baud modem (don't recall the brand) that I used with my Amiga 500 and later an Amiga 2000 - also used it with my first PC and a Wildcat! BBS


I didn't own a 9600 baud modem back in the day.  I went from an external 2400 baud modem to an external USRobotics Sportster 14.4K.  I used the Sportster to access the Internet for the first time in late 1993.


I had an external USRobotics Courier 33.6K at some point that I bought used or open box.  I don't remember much about this for some reason.  I also think this is the last stand alone modem I've ever bought.

Edited by 20ohm20, Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:08 AM.

#10 MrMaddog OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:12 PM

Atari ST w/ Wang 2400 Baud modem


I didn't have a modem when I was a teenager because my mom didn't want me to rack up phone bills.  Once I was in college though, I did buy a Wang (don't laugh) modem at Walmart so I can dial into the VAX computer used in the college lab.  But since that ability wasn't set up until my last semester, I ended up using it to call BBS's within the local call distance.  The Atari BBS's that were outside the local call area I only went on during weekend nights to reduce the charge mostly to download programs.  Right around that time was the area's first dial-up ISP that offered BBS style menus to access the Internet...and yes it was a big friggin' deal back then!  I got by with a 2400 modem since web pages and everything else was text only.  Later on when I transfered to a university, I used the same Atari ST and modem to dial into the school's UNIX shell account and also using the Macs in the computer lab for graphical web browsing over Mosaic.


IBM PS/2 Model 25 w/ AT&T 14.4K modem


I got lost of free stuff from people at the Atari user group when they moved on from ST's to PC's.  The President gave me his IBM PS/2 with a built in 2400 modem which had NetTerminal for having a "direct" Internet connection through SLIP.  But since it was a pain to setup and used I just put on a terminal emulator plus Zmodem program and kept using a dial-up shell account. (The IBM also had a TSR based text editor which was convient)  He also gave me a 14.4K modem which I used for the IBM until the power supply went out.  Reason I used the PS/2 was my ST monitor died and I couldn't used Medium rez on a TV.  So it was the IBM for online with a bit of word processing and the ST strictly for games.


Pentium II PC w/ internal 56K modem


When I returned to college I needed a Windows PC to run Borland C++ compiler on.  The PC had an ISA based modem that was Plug 'N Play but wasn't a Winmodem.  Windows 98 had no problems detecting it.  But since PPP based connections were too expensive at the time, I ended up going to the computer lab using their T1 connection which was way better than dial-up anyway.  I only used the PC at home for calling up the last BBS in the area till that was shut down.  I eventually found an affordable ISP but still used the college's T1 line to download large game demos & mods and burned them on a CD-R to take home.


When I started using Linux however, I had problems using my modem since it was conflicting with my ISA based sound card and I could only use one or the other.  Some one in a chat room suggested I use an external modem since my Linux distro detected my PC serial ports so here's my next purchase...


US Robotics 56K external modem


This was the best dial-up modem I've ever used... I used it on AT&T Worldnet for both Linux & Windows 98 (along side the Dreamcast's own modem).  At the place I was living at the time I got 51K connection instead of the usual 48K with my internal modem.  But when I moved somewhere else, the phone lines weren't so good and I was getting dropped connections so I had to switch to a cheaper ISP.


It was the last offical dial-up modem I used before I was able to get a DSL connection and later on cable broadband...

#11 RodLightning ONLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:59 PM

... Once I was in college though, I did buy a Wang (don't laugh) modem at Walmart so I can dial into the VAX computer used in the college lab.  But since that ability wasn't set up until my last semester, I ended up using it to call BBS's within the local call distance.  The Atari BBS's that were outside the local call area I only went on during weekend nights to reduce the charge mostly to download programs.  Right around that time was the area's first dial-up ISP that offered BBS style menus to access the Internet...and yes it was a big friggin' deal back then!  I got by with a 2400 modem since web pages and everything else was text only.  Later on when I transfered to a university, I used the same Atari ST and modem to dial into the school's UNIX shell account and also using the Macs in the computer lab for graphical web browsing over Mosaic...


I'm laughing because I also bought my first "Wang" from a Walmart, mine was a ISA VGA card though.  :)


I forgot to mention that my final upgrade was a 33.6 kbps Zoom internal modem card, with free 56K update when the standard was finally set.  I did the upgrade, but was still never able to get much more than 28.8 kbps.  I did manage 33.6 and 48k a few times, but it was rare.  Running a shielded cable directly from the telco box helped a little bit, but I think the problem must have been with local phone lines.  I remember that they were already using some kind of multiplexing trickery to increase the number of lines available to the neighborhood.  A telco lineman once told me that more people were wanting a second line for modems and fax machines at home.  The irony is that higher speeds might have been possible 20 years earlier when there was all copper wire in place and less connected to the system.  How times have changed...I had my land line disconnected a few years ago and my desk telephone runs on voip (magic jack).


FYI, voip, at least the one I'm using is terrible for modems.  I tried last year for nostalgia, and the best connection I could get was 1200 kbps.


In other news, I have picked up a couple of external US Robotics modems, found in desk drawers and waste bins at work.  I would have liked to own those back in the day and nostalgia was motivation for saving them from destruction.  They were after all, top of the line back then.

#12 Flojomojo OFFLINE  


    You can't handle the truth. No truth-handler, you.

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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:57 PM

My cat kinda sounds like a modem handshake.

#13 slx OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:45 PM

Started with a proprietary 1200/75 box used to acces the Minitel-like Bildschirmtext-System in the mid-80s. With modems requiring certification by the postal authority no BBSing here. Got my first Dallas Fax 14.400 Modem in 1991 to connect to FidoNet. After getting my first PC to surf the WWW in 1996 I upgraded to a 33.6 (USR Sportster?). I dimly remember something even faster as well as an ISDN card but switched to a cable modem before 1999. Its hard to believe today that before that one would only check for mail a couple of times per day, each time waiting for the duck calls that signaled a successful connection.

Looking back modems feel as short-lived as fax machines, but a footnote to computer history. Good to remember them!

#14 Stephen OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:59 PM

First modem I ever saw used, was a 1030 hooked to a 1200XL.  This led me to save for and buy my XM301.  Served me well for a while, then I upgraded to an SX212.  Few years later my Atari went bust (1050 died) I had no computer from 91 until we got our first PC, an AMD 486 DX4-100MHz in early 94.  I believe we started with a US Robotics internal 14.4, quickly moved to 33.6k then 56k, before moving to a place in 98 with broadband.  Been full time connected ever since, my current connection is 100MBps down, 10up.  Brother sucks - he lives in Florida, and has GBit down, 100 up.  Funny how times have changed.  I still bitch about waiting for stuff to download too.

#15 scotty OFFLINE  



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Posted Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:11 PM

Mpp1000C for the Attari 8-bits, then

DAC 1200 Baud -  Remember them??!!

US Robotics 2400 baud Courier

US Robotics 14.4 Courier HST Dual Standard (V.Everything)


USR had upgrades for the 14.4 to 28.8 and 56K.  So when they advertised the 14.4 as being the last modem I would ever buy, they were right!!


Funny thing is, I had a C64 user friend come over my house, and asked why I had a radar detector plugged in to my computer!!   They were used to the generic Commodore modems that plugged in to the back with no lights.

Edited by scotty, Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:14 PM.

#16 DragonGrafx-16 OFFLINE  



  • 477 posts

Posted Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:51 PM

My grandma had AOL from around 2003-2007... it was my only experience with dial-up. I turn 28 this month and I never had internet at home until 2004.

#17 digdugnate OFFLINE  


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Posted Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:54 PM

Our first modem was the TI Coupler Modem- http://www.mainbyte....ware/modem.html


The next one we had was for the C128- (I think it was a Commodore 1200?)


After that, though, there wasn't really any net to speak of until I hit my freshman year of college in 1998- my dekstop had an internal 28.8 modem.  We upgraded to 56k in like 2000 I think it was, then went to DSL in 2003.


The rest as they say, is history. ;)

Edited by digdugnate, Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:58 PM.

#18 slab0meat OFFLINE  



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Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:01 AM

I had two different Volks modems for the C64 (I forget which model numbers).. Not great, but they did the job.



I remember when my friends (twins) got a modem for their C64 and showed it to me, I'm not sure I'd ever seen one for Commodore.  It was amazing at the time.

#19 Gentlegamer OFFLINE  



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Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:36 AM

It used to take 12 hours to download a Neo Geo ROM over 56k modem.

#20 Stormbringer OFFLINE  


    Chopper Commander

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Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:37 AM

Atari 830

Some unknown Hayes compatible * questions on this.

Hayes 2400

US Robotics 14.4 - 56k external

various ISA/PCI modems in the PC world


* So... this awesome, white external modem. I think it was 1200. It had a detachable face that would store your phone numbers in it... it had a display that you could select a number to dial/save, etc.

Anyone ever see something like this before? I think the idea was that you stored all your numbers and you can pop the display into another modem like it and have access to all your numbers.

#21 H.E.R.O. OFFLINE  



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Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:47 AM

I had a Mighty Mo 300k & a Commodore 1200 for my C64. 



#22 glazball OFFLINE  



  • 537 posts
  • Location:Austin, TX

Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:17 AM

Jeez - haven't thought of Zmodem in for-fucking-ever.  Man I miss those BBS days, when only computer-worthy people could get online.

#23 Gamemoose ONLINE  



  • 711 posts

Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:34 AM

Not many but...

Color Computer: Direct Connect Modem Pak (300 baud)- Got this bad boy on clearance at Radio Shack when I was 16 or so. Signed up with Delphi and then found I got put into the more expensive per hour tier ($7.99 or something like that) instead of the $4.99. Had a big bill from that AND extended calling charges.

Packard Bell-whatever came installed with that 486 machine. No clue what it had. Worked in DOS as I played Warcraft 2 and Werewolf vs Comanche against someone. I was on AOL at that time as I was on my own and could afford it. By about 1996 I went onto the regular web through an Internet company in Sheboygan then got free Internet through a computer store I worked at. When I switched jobs from there, I went with a more local provider and stuck with them until I got broadband at the turn of the century. I went through a three PCs and stuck with whatever brand Wintel modem I bought and transferred to each machine (an actual IBM PC then two PCs I built).

#24 tschak909 ONLINE  


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Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:11 PM

speaking of ZModem, was there anyone out there that actually bought a copy of PRO-YAM or ZCOMM (the official comm programs that Chuck Forsberg wrote) besides me? :)



#25 Flojomojo OFFLINE  


    You can't handle the truth. No truth-handler, you.

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  • I deride your truth-handling abilities.

Posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:19 PM

No you dingbat, we just copied that floppy like a normal person. :-D

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