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

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at usap.gov
Thu Aug 7 15:03:17 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.

Up until I was a beta-tester for the C-64 VidTex client (for guys
that became my co-workers 20 years later), I used my own, heavily-
tweaked, terminal emulator program on a C-64 (first BASIC, then
BASIC/machine-language hybrid).

> - but I still landed in 
> the middle of 2400 times, and that was painful enough!

I didn't get a 2400 baud modem until the late 1980s - right before that, I
was using non-Hayes 1200 baud modems (Cermetek and Ventel) with real VT100s
for dialling into work and "computer aided instruction" classes at that
same university down the street.

I finally upgraded when several events coincided - I got a 20MB hard disk
on my Amiga (ST-225 w/ISA controller and "The Wedge" ISA adapter), I
got UUCP working on that Amiga, and Goldstar came out with a $99 2400 baud

That rig racked up many, many hours of UUCP time to a friend down the
street who eventually founded an ISP.  To tie it into another recent
thread, he was part of a local UNIX club where everyone was running
386s and Interactive UNIX (I still have my diskettes and manuals;
picked up at Weird Stuff Warehouse on a trip to the Bay Area).

> Although I seem to 
> remember being perfectly happy when things progressed to 33.6K - I couldn't 
> imagine making use of anything faster, and all the various non-WWW services 
> did all that I could ever need.

Once Supra came out with a sub-$300 19.2K modem, I upgraded the old
Goldstar, but it was a long, long time until I went to 33.6K, so long
that I think the prices for an external modem were down to around $50.

I needed it because they hadn't run cable out to my farm, and the
telco routing was so sub-optimal that it was well under the max
distance for DSL as the crow flies, but 2x-3x as the cables ran.
The analog lines were so long that 56K wasn't even close to an option.
As it was, I couldn't connect reliably over 28.8K.

That was about 10 years ago, and since then, cable (and cable modems)
have penetrated to the edges of town.  Much more satisfactory.  I
don't know that I've ever owned a 56K modem - I made the transition to
broadband (back in town) so early that I just kinda skipped that era.


Ethan Dicks, A-333-S     Current South Pole Weather at  7-Aug-2008 at 19:40 Z
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Ethan.Dicks at usap.gov            http://penguincentral.com/penguincentral.html

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