[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Paul Revere’s Midnight Modem

June 28th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

U.S. Robotics Password Modem Ad - 1984Apparently Paul Revere owned a secret power plant in 1775.

[ From Personal Computing, May 1984, p.194 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: How fast was your first modem? What year did you get it?

21 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Paul Revere’s Midnight Modem”

  1. Justin Says:

    This is a great ad! Love the modem!

  2. Kevin Says:

    My first modem was a USR 14.4. It was a card though, not a stand alone box. It came with our new computer we bought in 1993. Not knowing any better, I immediately used it get sign up for AOL. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.

  3. Christopher Morrison Says:

    My first modem was the VICMODEM from Commodore. It plugged into the back of the Commodore 64. Blazing fast 300 baud. My mother and I used it to log on to a local BBS. Then I discovered software piracy, and upgraded to an external 1200 baud modem…

  4. Cozfer Says:

    First modem was the 300 baud IBM PCjr ‘sidecar’ modem. I even had to write my own little modem driver for it to work. A few years later in high school when my friend and I set up a BBS using his 9600 baud (blazing fast at the time), we thought “why would we ever need a faster modem, it’s as fast as the screen!”

  5. Alexander Says:

    I think mine was a 28.8 baud on my second desktop. It was for a Windows 98 desktop, and from that thing, I went on the internet for the first time age 9. Oh man, that thing cruised.

  6. arlandi Says:

    the first modem i ever use… i can’t remember the brand, but it was a 2400 bps external serial port around 94.

  7. Sledge Says:

    If I remeber correctly. it was 2600bps Microcom (Iร‚ยดm not sure about name of manufacturer). Still have it somewhere. It cost me approximately 50czk (=2$) in 1999. As 15 year old, I didnร‚ยดt have enough money for faster one ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Sledge Says:

    Correction: it was 2400bps, of course ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Xyzzy Says:

    The first modem I ever used was an odd external type my Dad used to access the GEnie service on his Apple IIC+ back in the mid-late 80s & early 90s… I’m not sure quite *what* speed it would have been, though.

    The first one I used regularly, though, was a pair of internal 14.4bps modems in Mom’s & Dad’s computers (a DX2/50 & a SX-33). I started out just using Microsoft Works “Communications” to call the library and a friend’s BBS of games. Before too long, we got an AOL account… That was so painfully slow that my little brother and I wrote a little graph to show how much money Mom & Dad would save on long-distance charges & AOL fees if each got a 28.8kbps or even a 36.6kbps modem for their houses.

  10. SirPaul Says:

    My first modem was on my old Packard-Bell (*bronx cheer*) 486, and I think it was 2400 bps. My mother used to go on Prodigy with it, and use it to chat. I remember it cost $30 per month for 30 hours of use… I also remember one time when we used it to download a teaser image for Star Trek: Voyager, and get excited every time a new line of the image appeared. I think it took something like 45 minutes to download that image, at 320 x 240-ish.

  11. Andrew Fisher Says:

    A 1200 baud modem for my Commodore 64, in 1994… people don’t believe me when I say that I had an e-mail account (through a bulletin board) and surfed the Web (via the Lynx text browser) but it was all possible on a standard C64. These days you can even use Twitter and Ethenet connections…

  12. Eagles409 Says:

    My first modem was for my Apple IIe that I got in 1985. It was an external modem that would hang from the wall socket. It was a 1200 baud modem, which at the time was pretty fast. I still have the entire computer and I still fire it up from time to time. Sometime I need to play a little Castle Wolfenstein (the original one).

  13. Garrett Meiers Says:

    My first modem was a Tandy DCM 300 Baud modem. I don’t remember the exact version. I picked it up at a local Radio Shack on the clearance table for $15. I promptly hacked together my own cable to connect it to my VTech Laser 128 (Apple II compatible), got some software from a friend, and was “online”!

    The year must have been somewhere around the early to mid 80’s. I wish I still had it — I have a few other DCM’s I’ve picked up, but none that are just like the one I had…

  14. EastBayAnt Says:

    My first modem was an external 14.4 kbps Prometheus Promodem. I used to not only dial up local BBS’s here in the San Francisco area, but also my local library in order to access the internet via the Lynx web browser, as well as setting my modem to be ready to receive an all-important call from my friend’s IBM Aptiva to hook up and play some Mechwarrior. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Most of my browsing/BBSing/gaming was done in the middle of the night due to the fact that this was when I was in high school, still living in my parents’ house, with the entire house having one landline.

    It’s funny now to think about trying to occasionally use the modem in the middle of the day, only to be interrupted by the sound of telephone keypad tones and occasionally tiny voices (!) being strained through the modem’s internal speaker as someone in the house attempted to dial out on the upstairs phone.

    Good times…

  15. Donn Says:

    Count me in with the 2400bps crowd, an internal card for my 286. Used it to dial in to my friends BBS, play the odd door game. Didn’t have any far-flung friends to sent mail to over the FIDONET, nor was I using USENET at that time. Of course, that would all change some years later when I went to college, and had access to the Internet proper.

    In 1993, the fact that the dorms were wired for Ethernet was a strong selling point for Cal Poly.

    Where are the stories about acoustic couplers? ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Daniel Says:

    My first modem was the PCjr internal modem – an awesome 300 baud.

    I always wanted an acoustic coupler, but I never had one of those.

  17. Cozfer Says:

    I think my PCjr was an internal, not the ‘sidecar’ mentioned earlier…wonder what that expansion was for (maybe memory). Wasn’t there a problem with the modem in that if you were typing, it would interrupt any tx/rx going on?

  18. Jim Says:

    I too had the Tandy DCM 300 baud modem that I got on clearance. Mine was hooked up to my Tandy Color Computer II. Oh the good (expensive!) times on CompuServ!!

  19. Mike Says:

    First modem was a sort of unique external Hayes 2400 baud modem which had a long serial cable from the modem itself which mounted on the wall where it was plugged in.

  20. Jim Hickle Says:

    Tandy DCM 300, Coco 2. CompuServe had special numbers that connected at 450 bps. As I recall, MikeyTerm would work at 450 bps.

  21. Cody Says:

    2400 modem for me, which had 8 or so big black switches on the front that I had no idea what they did (and back then you couldn’t easily search the internet for a manual).

    I seem to remember having a 14.4k modem, but then the 33k6 was the biggest jump for me and I was so super excited about it because I was getting a special one from an Australian company. Then later, a 56k when the v90 spec came out.

    I had a range of internals and externals, quite a few were fried by lightning hitting nearby, but luckily never frying the computer they were attached to.

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