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Are dial-up modems useful for anything?

EverythingIBM

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Aug 23, 2010
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So I have a whole stash of PCI dial-up modems, along with one 8-bit ISA one (forget what I pulled it out of).

Is there anything useful I can do with them without having an ISP for dial-up?

Otherwise I think I'm just going to recycle them. Probably a null-modem would be the best way to go if I need to network something older. And it's not like I'm going to be using dial-up to connect to the internet.
 

Chuck(G)

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Some of the better FAX modems used EEPROMs for their firmware. You might hang onto those before you toss the PCBs.

Of course, you can use them as caller ID boxes if you have POTS--and if they're voice modems, you can use them as answering machines.
 

Ole Juul

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I've used them just as dialers. If you keep a telephone number directory on your computer it's handy to just dial right out of there. It is extremely rare that I send faxes any more, but SSFAXER is a single file 80K DOS program that lets you do that on old kit. I have a batch file so I can fire off a fax without even leaving the command line. Cool, but fax machines are rare now.

Of course there's always bulletin boards, if that sort of thing interests you.

And then you can always put one on answer mode as a practical joke. :) Old computer folk will immediately hang up and call back with a modem. Others, who don't recognize the sound will think you've got a fax machine (fooled them eh?) and younger people will go WTF?

Let's see, there's got to be some more... I know ... put them on eBay at $200 each! That's what other people do. :)
 

EverythingIBM

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Yikes! Some of those prices on ebay are quite scary. There's a PCI dual fax card for $1000. I almost want to tell the seller they are insane.

Maybe I can do some phone experiments with them later, that actually sounds like fun --> in "answer mode". I love experiments :D

Guess I'll hold onto the rest and throw them in a drawer out of sight.
 

IBMMuseum

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Aug 28, 2006
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So I have a whole stash of PCI dial-up modems, along with one 8-bit ISA one (forget what I pulled it out of).

Is there anything useful I can do with them without having an ISP for dial-up?

Otherwise I think I'm just going to recycle them. Probably a null-modem would be the best way to go if I need to network something older. And it's not like I'm going to be using dial-up to connect to the internet.

Dialing out from a computer that monitors a network. Easy to do a front-end to go to a paging terminal or many of the cell phone carriers to send a text. Even greater that you don't have to use that fast of modem (300 to 1200bps, 14400bps at the highest rate that is optional).
 

Rick Ethridge

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Plattsmouth, Nebraska USA
Fax modems are good in the event of broadband failure and can be used to send faxes over telephone lines or VOIP. Oh, they make good telephone answering devices with the right software.
 

deathshadow

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the other day I had two male phone cable ends I needed patched together and was out of the normal gender benders, so I grabbed an old 14.4 modem out of my junk box to bridge the gap.

That's about as useful as I've found them.
 

Ole Juul

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Yikes! Some of those prices on ebay are quite scary. There's a PCI dual fax card for $1000. I almost want to tell the seller they are insane. . . .

That's what I meant about the eBay joke. I've been searching for certain modems to get information. The net is full of catalogues on sites that purport to be working businesses and list modems at prices that would make you think they came with a computer, keyboard, printer, and screen. It's a weird and wacky world out there.

Another practical use is to connect two computers over the phone system. Put one in host mode and you can grab software from it remotely. This is actually handy considering that the phone system in some areas is generally operating more hours than the internet. It's a backup in any case.

Another reason for keeping modems is their historical significance which is right at the top when you consider computer communications. I know communications is generally not a vintage subject, but how knows, the world may wake up to it some day. hehe And then you really will get $200 for them.
 

njroadfan

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Another reason for keeping modems is their historical significance which is right at the top when you consider computer communications. I know communications is generally not a vintage subject, but how knows, the world may wake up to it some day. hehe And then you really will get $200 for them.

I used to work in a computer store. We had storage bins for stripped/spare cards organized by type (sound, video, etc.). The biggest/overflowing box by far was..... analog modems. There are TONS of them out there, I don't see them becoming rare anytime soon.
 

chalackd

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Rimbey, Alberta, Canada
I used a circuit described here once to transfer files between a couple of computers via their modems without the use of a 'real' phone line. It's rather slow when compared to anything like serial or parallel transfer options, but still worked. In fact, I think the only reason I tried this method was from working with a laptop that didn't have easy access to serial/parallel, plus just for the sake of doing it...

That link also mentions obscure and obsolete ideas like using a fax machine as an ad-hoc printer or scanner, though I'm not entirely sure if that's completely possible or not...
 

Ole Juul

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I used to work in a computer store. We had storage bins for stripped/spare cards organized by type (sound, video, etc.). The biggest/overflowing box by far was..... analog modems. There are TONS of them out there, I don't see them becoming rare anytime soon.

I'm sure there are tons of them out there. That barrel was probably full of Rockwell win modems and other junk. Seriously, I don't think that the world will actually start to appreciate the value of communications technology, which is exactly why I think collectible modems will likely become rare in a short time - even just 10 or 20 years from now it might be hard to get hold of even the lowly win modem. People throw stuff out that they don't value. At any rate, the historical value of something is not really tied to the quantity produced, nor available. If that was the case the Commodore 64, for example, would be considered undesirable for collectors.

BTW: I've been keeping an eye out for modems on eBay and many are really hard to find or way too expensive for me.
 

Ole Juul

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I've got a few boxes full; looking for anything in particular?

I recently got a bee in my bonnet (along with some bats) about the Cardinal 2400 series internal modems. Specifically the 2450MNP (internal), but the other three models are of some interest too. I've seen a couple on eBay with the original box, but I don't particularly want the wrapping and I don't want the price that goes with that.

Another one (and damn I've thrown several away some years ago) is the Hayes external 1200. I've got a couple of Hayes 1200 internal ones but I feel I need the classic external one in the extruded aluminum box. The original 300 baud Hayes external is also interesting, but I'm afraid that I missed that one - at least considering what I'm willing to pay for this stuff.
 

Compgeke

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They make great telephone line couplers, and are a lot stronger than those cheap plastic ones.

Another use is to have some fun by prank calling by trying to fax, say a cell phone and have them get the awesome computer tones.
 

Ole Juul

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Another use is to have some fun by prank calling by trying to fax, say a cell phone and have them get the awesome computer tones.
If you set it to automatic retry, it won't give up until it connects with another modem. However, why irritate just one person? I'd plug it into a whopping big guitar amp and see how the neighbours like it!

Actually with the addition of a microphone, you could probably connect two computers with an audio link that way. This is where geek meets punk. Let's call it acidgeek.
 

Compgeke

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I thought of another use for the modems, to disabled them in your laptop. I know my laptop is new enough to have a DVD burner, wireless, Gigabit Ethernet, 3G and Wireless, however it still is old enough to have a modem (for god knows what, who uses dialup on a mobile computer anymore?).
 

swaaye

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Jun 4, 2009
Messages
26
I haven't used a computer modem in maybe 10 years but at work we send and receive faxes every day. Fax machines are very easy for people to use. I don't dare try to make them switch to faxing/scanning software!

I have run into the occasional person who is on dial up yet but it is very rare. I don't know how they do it with the modern image-laden web. :)
 
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