TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: History of Hayes Modem

Re: History of Hayes Modem
12 Jan 2006 08:05:08 -0800

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: My question would be, _who_ was the
> inventor of the MO(dulate)DEM(modulate) in that case? If Hayes only
> 'refined' it somewhat, with 'smart stuff' in it such as 'AT' and '+++'
> then whose idea was it to ship data over the phone wire originally? PAT]

The IBM history "IBM's Early Computers" by Bashe et al talks about
early transmission efforts in the 1950s using modulation over voice
lines. I believe this had to be done over private lines only since it
was their gear, not Bell's. IIRC, IBM didn't push too hard in this
area since they didn't want to anger Bell which was a major IBM
customer. IBM was experimenting with various things in the 1950s,
using including Western Union telegraph lines.

Earlier, IBM also developed a radio teletype which presumably had to
modulate and encode key characters.

Bell came out with the Dataset in the 1960s. I suspect Bell may have
had experimental installations for customers and itself before that.

How much cooperation there was between Bell and IBM on data
communications in the 1950s I don't know. Their respective histories
don't seem to talk about it much.

IBM's Watson Jr says the company was a bit insular and missed a 1950s
opportunity to jointly develop xerographic printers in cooperation with

As to other comments in this thread:

1) Dial up modems were available well before 1973, at least as earlier
as 1968 as part of Teletype time sharing terminals. These were
automatic in the sense they would answer a ringing phone line and
connect up and disconnect and power down upon completition. They
could remotely start/stop different tasks, like the paper tape punch
and reader.

One thing hasn't changed in all these years -- the high pitched answer
tone we all hear and the responding tone. The subsequent handshaking
may have evolved, but that original irrtating sound remains the same.
The automatic teletypes had a speaker built in so one could hear it.

2) BBS: They were a lot like Usenet groups. The quality varied
greatly from BBS to BBS and from poster to poster. Flame wars, which
got way out of hand, were common. So were "bullies" and
self-appointed "police". There was useful information as well plenty
of garbage masquerading as useful information.

I noted that there were very passionate techie advocates of BBSing as
the "wave of the future". In truth, a very small percentage of the
general population were involved in it.

Around that time commercial services were attempting to provide
features that the Internet would later give. Prodigy was an early
one, designed for easy home access. Compuserve was the big boy. (I
was a Compuserve subscriber but hardly ever used it because anything
of interest cost extra.)

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