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

Re: History of Hayes Modem
15 Jan 2006 18:00:16 -0800

AES wrote:

> No "invention" needed; just implementation by someone clever enough to
> recognize these facts (and the potential need and
> utility); competent enough (and motivated enough) to do the job; and
> access to the minimal resources required to do the implementation.

Most inventions are not something brand new, but rather a new or
improved use or mfr of existing materials or products. The telegraph
used electricity which was known and distant communication which was
known. Who invented smoke or flag signals?

I don't know the cut off, but at some point an improvement to an
existing product ("an implementation") becomes a new patentable
invention. For example, the early IBM punched card contained 45
columns of round holes. They improved the design to be 80 columns of
rectangular holes on the same size card, this got them a patent.

The transmission of telegraph signals over phone lines wasn't new, but
they were sent over a special reserved segment of the lines. The use
of the voice line to send signals, without any special modification of
the line, allowed for much higher speed. To me, the development of
the "modem" and transmission code and protocol was a significant
improvement and did constitute an invention. IBM announced this as a
product in 1954. I don't know what AT&T had, if anything, at that

Note that in 1954 the primary use of such data transmission was not
for computers (too few of them at that point), but rather card
tabulating machines.

Regarding acoustic couplers on modems, they existed prior to connect
other devices to the telephone network. Of course, one could lease
Bell provided Dataphones for your own terminals, or a Bell provided
terminal. Teletype began to make CRTs in its last years.

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