Retrochallenge, 2005

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at
Tue Jun 14 16:41:30 CDT 2005

On 6/14/05, Fred Cisin <cisin at> wrote:
> I (and MANY others) were doing Source and Compuserve before 1980 on
> TRS80s and Apple ][s.   It's not THAT long ago that 300 baud was the
> FAST speed.

Plus in the case of the VIC-20 and C-64, the 300 baud modem was
big-banged (the "modem" was literally just a tone
modulator/de-modulator hung off of the "user" (parallel) port.  The
human had to dial a regular phone, wait for the carrier, then unplug
the handset cord from the phone and plug it into the "VIC Modem".  No
sissy Hayes commands here.

I got my first VIC Modem in 1982 with a $40 CIS certificate.  I didn't
like the terminal program that came with the modem, so I wrote my own
*in BASIC*!  Eventually, I ended up on the beta-test list for VidTex
for the C-64 - still have the program and the manual.  In 2001, I went
to work at CompuServe with some of the same guys that developed VidTex
and the early VidTex content nearly 20 years prior.

I stuck with 300 baud for a long time because it was *only* $6/hr
off-peak.  I still had a few bills that ticked off my mom.

By 1985, I was using a CiTOH VT100 clone and a Ventel 1200-baud modem
borrowed from work... there happens to be an 8-bit processor inside
the terminal (8080?  8085?  Z-80?), but it's not accessible to the
user inside a dumb terminal.  One could dial up with that (direct via
modem, or through a terminal server and cable modem) to get to lynx,
mutt, etc....


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