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Your personal modem history, what was it like?


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#26 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:10 PM

My first modem was kit built. Whole thread about it:
http://atariage.com/...-1981-sio-modem

#27 x=usr(1536) OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 3, 2018 8:05 PM

A potted history of modems I have owned and/or had the use of, in more or less chronological order:

 

AppleCat II.  Not mine, but was attached to the Apple ][+ my mother had at the time.  I was a bit young to really completely grasp what it was capable of, but it did let me cut my teeth on BBSing and wardialling.  Both of those activities ceased temporarily after a particularly egregious phone bill was received that was a direct result of my activities.  That was surreptitiously lifted when I discovered calling card numbers...  And was immediately reinstated after a very unpleasant visit from law enforcement with telco security in tow.  This was the point where I learned to not do dumb things, and to especially not do them from your home phone line.

 

At some point, an Atari 1030 came onto the scene.  Nothing really remarkable about it, other than that it did modem stuff for me for a couple of years.  I got it under the condition that my statement that I had learned my lesson from prior escapades, and would not repeat them.

 

This was eventually replaced by a 2400-baud Hayes (or Hayes-compatible generic modem; I forget) that was a huge step up from the 1030.  By this stage the family had moved back to Ireland permanently (prior to this, there was a great deal of back-and-forth across the Atlantic) and it came with me along with an 850 interface.  Some time later a small group of us found out that the 850 could do split baud rates - like the 1200/75 standard used by Prestel in the UK.  Little-known fact: Prestel had a non-publicised Dublin dialup; a great deal of amusement was had with that until it closed down, likely due to our abuse(s) of it.  That modem found and did a number of interesting things during its tenure in my hands.

 

That one ended up doing double-duty for a while between the 8-bit machines and the ST that I picked up, but ended up being traded for (IIRC) a 1029 printer so that I could dedicate the Epson FX-80 exclusively to the ST.  Eventually, though, something secondhand and in the 9600bps category fell into my lap for cheap on a trip to the 'States, and it was a screamer for the time.  Almost no BBSes in the country ran above 2400 at the time (and the phone network at the time was so crap that you'd be lucky to connect above that anyway unless it was literally next door to you), so it was something of a white elephant.  Fast, but not very useful at speed.

 

Kept that modem for several years until the ST was finally phased out in 1995 in favour of a P75-based PC.  That one came with a bundled 14.4Kbps hardware modem, which was great - until 33.6Kbps hit.  And this is where I made a giant mistake.

 

33.6Kbps is awesome if you're not using a Winmodem.  I bought a Winmodem, not being fully-cognizant of what that meant.  Suffice to say, it sucked.  Despite having the PC overclocked to 100MHz, using it dragged everything down on the Windows side, and it was completely unsupported on the Linux side.  Total heap of crap, and I learned very quickly that you do NOT buy Winmodems.  Ever.

 

Ended up emigrating to the 'States and put together a PC.  Added an external Creative ModemBlaster 56K to it; it was definitely V.90 but think it may have been V.92 upgradeable.  Used that for a few years, moved onto a cable modem, and have been broadband ever since.

 

With one exception.

 

About four years ago, I started a series of on-again, off-again experiments involving running analogue modems over VoIP.  This kicked off with TrendNet TFM-561U 56K USB modems, but it just didn't feel right having an extra analogue-to-to-digital (or vice-versa, depending on the direction of the traffic) stage in there, so I acquired a pair of USRobotics Courier 3453C external 56K modems to replace the TrendNets with.

 

The VM that the experimental BBS which the USR was passed through to suffered a really hard crash a few months ago, and is in need of being pretty much completely rebuilt.  That being the case, I've been contemplating rebuilding it under Linux, which would allow me to use mgetty for a number of things that had had to be inelegantly cobbled-together under Windows.  I could probably get dial-a-fortune working again with minimal effort, though...

 

I'll stop here before I get off too far onto that particular tangent.  Have to say that it's been very interesting to read others' experiences and history with modems; there's an interesting amount of overlap floating around.



#28 butterburp OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:27 AM

I missed the golden 300/1200 days and started with the standard (i.e., generic) 2400 modem. Can't remember if it had that nice shiny 9600 fax capability or not. Oddly, something tells me I may have actually sent a fax or two, but more likely my aging memory is just misremembering. Anyway, it was perfect for email, playing text games on IRC and downloading smaller 256-color GIF's. Mostly though, I was using my roommate's computer, as he had an Ethernet card and the dorms had just gotten wired. Multiplayer Rise of the Triad, here we come.

 

Once I was on my own, we had a shared T1 at work (and I darn near screwed up my boss's computer trying to tweak it after hours - I thought I was fired for sure, but managed to restore everything somehow). At home I started playing the incremental game, going to 9600, then 14.4 which lasted me quite a while. Skipped 28.8, went to 33.6 and then 56 V90. And yes, I got sucked into buying V92, because I was hooked on an online Pictionary game, and every bit of upload speed counted. No match for broadband but it sure was fun trying. Eventually got 1.5/256 DSL which leveled the playing field just a bit...and increased my downloading habits exponentially.

 

In this day of fiber optics and what-not, I'm surviving on 12Gbps and refuse to upgrade. I'm addicted to the Internet enough as it is.



#29 Clint Thompson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:32 PM

My first modem was also on the first real computer I ever owned for the TRS80 Model 4. It was the silver external box that ran at 300bps. Granted, I got the system far later in my life than its release date and didn't get the modem for it until I picked up some yard sale lot many years later into the 90s but I did manage to dial-up into the local Trader BBS with garbage ASCII text here and there but overall it worked, though the TRS80 didn't seem to like it - or vice versa.

 

I was surprised I could even connect honestly.

 

Modems later I ended up with some 56k that wasn't a U.S. Robotics from Best Buy (though I really wanted one) but whatever modem I picked up was quite the speedy device and I rocked it for many years until finally being one of the first ones in the area to adopt DSL through a company called Telocity then went on to being ATT or SBCGlobal. What a strange day to know that from this day moving forward, you're computer has a dedicated line to the internet and you'll never have to worry about dialing up again or tying up the phone line, even though by that time most people had already started to merge over to using cell phones as their primary phone anyways.


Edited by Clint Thompson, Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:33 PM.


#30 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:14 PM

I would rather like to think my modem upgrade history was more efficient or cost-effective than other computer upgrades I did. Perhaps less tedious and less granular.

 

300 Hayes Micromodem II

300/1200 Apple Cat II

2400 Supra Express

14.4 Practical Peripherals

56.6 Supra Express

Cable modem 1

Cable modem 2



#31 blakespot OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:20 PM

I had an Apple IIe and in the summer of 1986 I was able to get a Prometheus ProModem 1200A internal modem for it for my birthday. I later used that modem in a Laser 128 and then an Apple IIgs. My next modem was an Avatex 1200 on an Atari 520ST. The Supra 2400 was the first faster-than-1200-baud modem I got, and that was on my Amiga 2000 in ~1989. Fastest modem I ever had before switching to cable was the Cardinal 144e on my DOS PC. Switched to cable forever in 1997.



bp

#32 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:34 PM

I had a friend install a Linux distro that automatically dialed out when a program asked for Internet access.  Also, it was smart enough to disconnect when nothing asked for access.  Plenty of connects and disconnects were made that week.

 

Unbeknownst to me my parents had gone for a cheap phone plan that had a limited amount of local calls per billing cycle.  Reinstalling Windows and grounding ensued!

 

Basically, my modem journey starts at 14,400 baud and ends at 56k.  I missed the BBS era on my non IBM PC machines.  Seems like an exciting time.



#33 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:16 AM

I got around to taking apart a USR 56K external V.everything and was nicely impressed at the overall simplicity and quality of construction. Two screws, and the shell splits in half. The PCB literally falls out of the casing, and that's about it!

 

Simple, effective, and none of this ridiculous snap-together shit in use today. Also loved seeing the 80186 early SoC in there!



#34 ChildOfCv OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:43 PM

My first modem was a Zoom 1200/300 modem card for my IBM PC (5150).  Worked quite well until I broke one of the crystals off.  Even after replacing the crystal it still wouldn't connect at 1200 anymore.

 

Next modem was a Zoom external 2400 baud one.  At the time I didn't know about this new-fangled compression, and I always used 2400 baud from my computer to connect to the modem.  Toward the end of owning it, I found out you could talk to it at up to 9600 to take advantage of the compression protocol (d'oh!)  but by then I had upgraded to 14400 bliss.

 

USR Sportster 14400.  Hands down, the best modem I ever used.

 

USR Sportster 28800.  Good modem until a lightning strike fragged a few internal components.

 

USR Sportster 38400.  A POS.  Unstable, couldn't hold advertised speeds, at least not for more than a minute.  By then USR support had turned into a script factory too.  After a long email chain where I answered each item, they just went back to the top of their script.

 

USR Dumpster 56000.  Slightly better than the 38400, but by then it was roundly reported that USR had become a garbage factory.

 

After then, typically whatever modem came with the computer/laptop.  Typically a software modem.



#35 JohnPolka OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 7, 2019 2:34 AM

...

 

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.

 

...

 

I remember the original Avatex 1200. Yes, it was priced well below all other 1200 baud modems at the time. They were able to do that in part because it was not fully Hayes Compatible. This lead to one of my SysOp friends to call it the "Avayuck 1200". Nonetheless, I used it on my BBS for a year or two. The only problem I had was that there was a button in the front that needed to be pressed in or it would not operate. I think the button was labeled "online" or "data" or something. When I logged into my BBS locally I would "press it out" so the modem wouldn't answer when someone tries to call. The only problem is if you forget to push the button back in after you log off, your BBS would be down until the button was pushed back in. Sometimes that would mean several hours of BBS downtime. They later came out with an "Avatex 1200 HC" where the "HC" stood for "Hayes Compatible". :) I don't remember if I bought the HC modem or jumped right to an "Avatex 2400" which was also fully Hayes Compatible.

 

-JP



#36 JohnPolka OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 7, 2019 2:48 AM

Mpp1000C for the Attari 8-bits, then

 

...

 

Hey Scotty "The Body"!

 

I was wondering when someone was going to mention the MPP1000C. I remember when that modem first came out and I wanted one badly! But I had to save my money delivering newspapers. By the time I had enough money, Supra bought them and released the Supra 300AT which was a rebranded MPP1000E (the successor to the 1000C). Still, that was a great modem that opened up the amazing world of Atari BBSs.  I was logging into BBSs using my dad's VT100 terminal that he used for work before getting that modem. When I saw how cool ATASCII was over the modem, I realized I had really been missing out. The Supra also served as the first modem I used for a BBS. With the Supra, I ran MPP AMIS BBS Software (which you gave me Scotty, so thank you! :) )

 

-JP

 

P.S. I almost forgot to mention the coolest part about the MPP1000C/E/Supra 300AT modems. You could jump the baud rate from 300 to 450 when you connect with another MPP 1000C/E/Supra 300AT modem. The MPP AMIS BBS software also supported the higher 450 baud. I remember 450 baud seemed lightning fast compared to 300 back in the day! :)


Edited by JohnPolka, Thu Feb 7, 2019 2:57 AM.


#37 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 7, 2019 10:52 AM

1. Atari XMM301

2. Atari SX212 (liked that it had SIO and RS232 ports, saved me from buying and 850)

3. Some 2400 baud-  Supra maybe?  can't find my model online

4. An Intel 14.4K modem, (144/144e)

5. A Cardinal 28800 Voice-modem (don't recall the model, but it was software upgraded to 33600)

 

I don't think I had a 56K modem before going to broadband



#38 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 7, 2019 3:16 PM

Commodore 64: 1650 or 1660-compatible

I was in my early teens. Guy I babysat for across the street would leave his modem out in the mailbox at night for me to borrow. In the wee hours of the morning I would sneak out in the ice and snow, run across, grab it, use it for a few hours then put it back before going to bed. My parents were worried a modem would run up the phone bill so my activities had to remain hidden.

 

Commodore 64: 1660, 1670, then an Emerson 2400 (got exchanged for a Wang 2400 when damaged)

Commodore 128: MiniModem C24, Hayes 9600.

Amiga: Hayes 14,400, Supra 28.8, Motorola 33.6, USRobotics 56k.

 

From the old dial-ups I went to an Ascend Pipeline 75 ISDN modem, then from there whatever worked with ADSL (and the litany of modems we used at the ISP.)

 

Mostly I was on BBSes in the 80s, then around 92-ish I got on Q-Link.  Once that shut down I starting using GEnie on my Amiga using a really nice front-end program.  A local BBS also supported PPP so someone in IRC (via the BBS) sent me a copy of TermiteTCP and I started getting on-line, bought a copy of Miami TCP stack, and the rest, as they say, is history. Truth be told, while I did have Windows 98SE on a Compaq Pentium 100 which I used for Internet Connection Sharing, I never actually owned a Windows computer I put into use until I bought a Windows 2000 laptop near the end of 2000.



#39 Shift838 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:13 AM

The first modem I had was a Signalman Mark III, 300 baud direct connect modem around 1985. After a year I upgraded to a Auto Answer Hayes 300 baud modem.  This modem ended up getting surged and i got an upgrade to a Promethius 1200 baud.  

 

I thought the 1200 was super fast back then.  A couple of years later I got a 9600 baud vseries Hayes modem.  Worked great if you connected to another Vseries modem.  Well that was a bad purchase.  I ended up getting a USR Dual Standard 14.4 and and then when the USR Dual Standard 56k was released I got that and still have it.

 

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • mark3.jpg
  • hayes300.jpg
  • promethius1200.jpg
  • hayes9600.jpg
  • hst.JPG


#40 x=usr(1536) OFFLINE  

x=usr(1536)

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Posted Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:04 AM



The first modem I had was a Signalman Mark III, 300 baud direct connect modem around 1985. After a year I upgraded to a Auto Answer Hayes 300 baud modem.  This modem ended up getting surged and i got an upgrade to a Promethius 1200 baud.  

 

I thought the 1200 was super fast back then.  A couple of years later I got a 9600 baud vseries Hayes modem.  Worked great if you connected to another Vseries modem.  Well that was a bad purchase.  I ended up getting a USR Dual Standard 14.4 and and then when the USR Dual Standard 56k was released I got that and still have it.

 

 

 

 

 

post-35187-0-29952500-1550074292.jpg

 

I remember those aluminium-cased Hayes modems!  There was a company that I worked for that ran a small bank of them for dial-in access.

 

If I'm not mistaken (and I may be), they or their later versions were designed to be stacked on top of each other, but could be locked together by sliding them in from the front.



#41 doctor_x OFFLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 1:17 PM

what a kick ass topic!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

1. some suitcase typewriter mainframe access thing that had an acoustic coupler.. my dad worked at Collins Radio (and later Rockwell/Alcatel) and was kind of a big wig....

2. MPP1000C

3. XM301

4. SX212

5. Hayes full length 9600 card

6. 14.4 bywhoever

7. Zoom 2400

8. VIVA vertical standing 14.4 with kick ass display

9. etc, etc, etc...

 

later on I got an atari acoustic coupler, apple cat acoustic coupler, atari 1030, as well as the famouse Apple Cat 212!!!!



#42 doctor_x OFFLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 1:18 PM

would KILL to have ANY hayes modem in that original case design - especially a 300.



#43 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 1:56 PM

If I'm not mistaken (and I may be), they or their later versions were designed to be stacked on top of each other, but could be locked together by sliding them in from the front.

 

They were meant to be stacked on top of each other. But lock together, no. No indentations or grooves or provisions for a solid stack.

 

 

Basically, my modem journey starts at 14,400 baud and ends at 56k.  I missed the BBS era on my non IBM PC machines.  Seems like an exciting time.

 

It was an exciting time. Reading astronomy books while waiting for a 1-hour download at 300-baud to finish. Great times. I think the magic manifested itself in 2 forms that are still around today.

 

1- Finding like minded hobbyists and discovering what they were doing and getting to look through their library of disks - which everyone seemed happy to trade for.

 

2- Everything was text back then. Anything ASCII, even such simple things like [-][-][-][-] or %*%*%*%*%*% were exciting to see. A modern message forum is very much like early BBS'ing - there's very little graphical stuff so the main form of expression is typing paragraphs of text.

 

By the way it was a big stick to have a realtime clock on an Apple II BBS. At first all we could afford was a free software clock. It lost time everytime the disk was accessed. But it was a clock and was like a rite of passage. Then sysops became uber-elite with real hardware clocks on expansion cards.

 

It was also discovered how to monitor the timing circuit in the Apple-Cat II modem and build a software clock around that! It didn't lose time either. Amazing these hackers pulled a clock out of the cat's ass!

 

 

My first modem was a Zoom 1200/300 modem card for my IBM PC (5150).  Worked quite well until I broke one of the crystals off.  Even after replacing the crystal it still wouldn't connect at 1200 anymore.

 

[..]

 

USR Dumpster 56000.  Slightly better than the 38400, but by then it was roundly reported that USR had become a garbage factory.

 

I had rather good luck with USR stuff. And although I didn't own any back in the day I often borrowed or temporarily traded with my buddy. A mockingboard for the modem for a week or so. I also lent out my printer buffer too and even my printer! It was fin exchanging hardware and then discussing the merits and pitfalls while waiting for 2-hir 300-baud downloads to finish.

 

In the Apple II world of things, Zoom modems were the preferred laughingstock because it automatically meant 300-baud lamer in an emerging 1200-baud world. Zoom modems weren't sold at specialty computer stores, so anyone typically would buy them as opposed to like a micromodem or applecat - harder to find - better modems. It was quite amusing the discussions we had about that stuff.

 

 

Commodore 64: 1650 or 1660-compatible

I was in my early teens. Guy I babysat for across the street would leave his modem out in the mailbox at night for me to borrow. In the wee hours of the morning I would sneak out in the ice and snow, run across, grab it, use it for a few hours then put it back before going to bed. My parents were worried a modem would run up the phone bill so my activities had to remain hidden.

 

I like that!


Edited by Keatah, Yesterday, 2:32 PM.


#44 ChildOfCv OFFLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 2:53 PM

I had rather good luck with USR stuff. And although I didn't own any back in the day I often borrowed or temporarily traded with my buddy.

They began life as an awesome budget modem (back int the 9600-14400 days) and the 14400 always worked flawlessly. But yeah after a while they became overproducted, probably by the lowest bidder in whatever sweat shop country was popular at the time, and a huge number of their modems were failing out of the box.

 

I understand that the Courier line was always good though.  It was also priced accordingly.






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