dial-up experiences (was Re: question aaout ISP's)

Keith M keithvz at verizon.net
Thu Aug 7 16:30:09 CDT 2008

> On Thu, Aug 07, 2008 at 10:48:26AM -0500, Jules Richardson wrote:
>> Sridhar Ayengar wrote:
>>> but dial-up sucks.
>> Surely it fits better with vintage computer collecting? I'm surprised that 
>> any of us are on broadband... ;)
>> Thankfully I missed the 300 baud (and earlier) era
> I didn't - my first modem experiences were with acoustic couplers and
> DECwriters in the educational environment (we didn't have one at my
> school, but I had access to one at the university down the block from
> where I grew up), and with a VIC Modem c. 1982.  I got on CompuServe
> (until my parents balked at the mounting costs), and local BBSes.

I didn't miss the 300 baud era.  I remember my first modem was a "direct 
connect" 300bps model sold by radio shack.  It had an "answer or 
originate" switch, along with a big red button that said "Connect." 
Push the button, carrier was activated.  No Hayes command set, no ATDT, 
no autodialing, nothing.  You needed to dial manually, listen for 
carrier, push the button, and hang up.  I used a 4th-hand pulse phone, 
because that's all my parents had to give me.

It connected to my TRS-80 Color Computer II, which had 16k of ram.  The 
TRS80 only had 32 columns, where the Commodore-64 and PC's had 40 at the 
time.  I dealt with half-wrapped lines for years.

So I dialed upwards of 100 BBS's in Pittsburgh, all thanks to unlimited 
metro calling, the package Bell Atlantic offered at the time.  I knew 
every exchange in the 412 area code, where it was located, and whether I 
could call it for "free."

This was early 80's.  Compuserve offered trial accounts which you could 
get via magazines, from other BBS's, etc.  I remember the userid's were 
always 6 (maybe 7?) digits, and the default passwords were two words 
separated by a symbol.  Like, "wolf-rhyme" or "phone!warsaw" etc.

300 baud was actually fast enough for the majority of what I did for at 
least a couple years.  1200 baud was state of the art -- but many people 
still connected at 300 baud.  When I later upgraded to an Amiga 500, I 
also got a 2400 baud modem which was lightning by comparison.  But then 
the files got bigger.... I later got a 14.4/16.8k (dual standard, 
Courier and HST, anyone remember these?) which was the BOMB --- no one 
had anything faster in the early 90's.  And then came K56flex and x2, 
competing standards........

I am a product of the 80's -- got interested in computers and modems 
right when WarGames came out, along with Whiz Kids, if anyone knows that 
show.  You'll never guess what I did during my teenage(and later) years? :)


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