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The 2400 "baud" modem

Ole Juul

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When new technology comes out, people don't all buy it right away. If what they have works, some will wait until it doesn't. A few people do get the latest though. In 1984 2400 baud modems became available, so some people had them, but many didn't.

A BBS list from 1986 shows operators were mostly 300 and 1200, but some were using 2400. The next 5 years were the hayday of the 2400.

BBS lists show the spread of modems that operators were using, but they were probably willing to pay more than the average user. Here is an article about when the price dropped to $100.

Looking at lists from 1994, when 28.8 modems had become available, there were still a significant number of 2400 bulletin boards. I don't have any statistics on users, but one can imagine that there would be a larger percentage of older and slower modems among them.

This all means that 2400 baud modems had a good 10 year run. No doubt there were a few still being used to contact BBSs, but the rapid rise of the world wide web started making them undesirable. Bulletin boards too, were disappearing rapidly. Still, a 2400 baud modem was not completely useless in 1995 or 1996 if one was getting text from one of the last remaining boards.

I'm interested in hearing people's experience with 2400 modems during any years, but particularly the mid to late 90s.
 

Uniballer

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USA
I remember buying a V.22bis (2400 bps) modem as soon as I saw the initial price drop (1986? probably 1987 or 1988 ). I was slightly concerned that I didn't recognize the manufacturer's name, and it was terribly generic, but it worked OK. I think the longest phone call of my life was transferring an RSX-11M-PLUS magnetic tape distribution kit from my PDP-11/44 at work to my house so I could write it to a TK25 cartridge. It might actually have made more sense to lug my 11/73 to work and cable it directly to the 11/44...

I'm not really sure when I upgraded to V.32 (9600bps), but certainly by late 1990. And I think my employer forced a Telebit T3000 (V.32bis - 14.4 kbps) on me in late 1991. By 1992 I was doing SLIP or PPP so I went to V.34 as soon as I could.
 
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glitch

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Central VA
I had a 2400 bps internal modem that got circulated between machines around 1998-2000. It was still in regular use because I was a broke kid and it was free. Mostly I dialed into Grex for shell/e-mail/their BBS/IRC. Once I upgraded from my 5160 XT to a 386, I attempted to use it to connect to the Internet with Windows 3.11 and Trumpet WinSock. Eventually I obtained a 14.4K external modem.
 

Dwight Elvey

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Santa Cruz
Someplace around 1990, I bought a pile of surplus 2400 baud
modems. I think there were about 10 of them. These were returned
units. Almost all had lightning damage. I swapped parts from
one board to another and came out with about 5 good boards.
I gave most all to friends.
Dwight
 

krebizfan

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May 23, 2009
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Connecticut
I had a 2400 baud modem in my spare system. Used it at night to connect to GEnie which was free at 2400 baud but very expensive at higher speeds.
 

Stone

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Someplace around 1990, I bought a pile of surplus 2400 baud
modems. I think there were about 10 of them. These were returned
units. Almost all had lightning damage. I swapped parts from
one board to another and came out with about 5 good boards.
I gave most all to friends.
Dwight
Just out of curiosity, which components were the ones that most often needed replacement? E.g., were capacitors or resistors the usual failures (if there were any that were more failure prone) due to the lightning strikes?
 

Dwight Elvey

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Most often you'd see a place where it arced on the board.
There were protection diodes that often were blown. Usually
at least one IC would have a hole near one of the leads where
the smoke got out.
Surprisingly, only one IC was usually blown, on each board. I suspect it shorted
enough to protect the rest. I don't recall which IC's were the most
commonly blown. Only a few capacitors were shorted and I don't
think I saw a resistor blown. If a resistor was in the way, it most
likely arced around it.
The isolation transformers held up well. I don't think I recall one
of those being wiped out. Maybe there was one or two on the
boards that where badly burnt that I removed other parts from.
Tinker Dwight
 

Dwight Elvey

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Santa Cruz
I recall when the laptops were first starting to be used.
They still mostly used wire modems or Ethernet.
I recall one person on a message board stating that
he'd disconnected his power supply because there was
a lightning storm.
He still had the phone line connected and typing away
on the computer.
I know that in the past, a most common cause of death was
people using phones with the headset on their ear.
Cell phones had most likely saved a lot of people.
I wonder if now that most have wiifi that the number of
deaths using laptops is going down.
Dwight
 

Stone

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That's very interesting. I've lost equipment in a lightning strike. It ate one port in a router (just one) :) and a memory stick and motherboard in one computer.
 

Chuck(G)

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Pacific Northwest, USA
My first experience with a personal computer and bitrates higher than 300bps was with a surplus Racal-Vadic 3451 modem. Not only would it do 1200 bps, but there was a special proprietary mode that could get you up to 2000 bps--but only when talking to another 3451. Shades of the Telebit Trailblazer.

Almost all of my modems after that were USR Couriers, including the early ones that had a proprietary 9600 (?) high-speed mode, but only when talking to another Courier. The jump from 2400 to 9600 bps was pretty dramatic.
 

vwestlife

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central NJ
I have a Hayes 2400 bps modem designed for laptops, that is powered entirely by the computer's serial port. It came with its own little zippered carrying pouch, and communications software on 3.5" and 5.25" disks. I keep it just because it's so unique, but now that CompuServe and GEnie are gone and BBSes are few and far between, I don't really have any use for it anymore.
 

NeXT

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Kamloops, BC, Canada
ATI sold a number of really nice modems and my first modem was a 9600 etc/e In 2003 which I used to connect to the Bandmaster BBS until they started switching the modem off whenever I connected (I don't think he wanted people connecting anymore) in late 2013.
 

Doug G

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SoCal
We installed PDP-11/34 based systems with both 1200 and 2400 baud modems in the early 80's. Mostly US Robotics. A dial-in modem was a requirement of the software vendor for these systems, which typically had 8/16 line serial mux's installed and 4-10 serial terminal workstations (ADM3A then later Wyse)

9600 baud externals were pretty pricey when they first came out, it seems to me my genuine Hayes 9600 was around $500.00 US list when it was new. I think we were paying a couple hundred bucks for 2400 baud modems when we were using them.
 

luvit

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Feb 16, 2014
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east of Newark, Oh i;m luvit
My family got an XT in '86.. it had a 1200baud modem. My dad, a farmer, had a program that would use the modem to dial long distance to a BBS that only had grain market data. It was all automated once you launched the program. It would take 20minutes to download a huge text file which contained information for many markets.. we only needed a dozen lines in the middle of that file. The program would save the file and disconnect. Then we would print the whole file.. because that's the way we were taught.
in '92 I bought a 486 DX50 from a company called "PC Importers" (I think from Cleveland) and the sales guy told me to buy a modem.. so I did.. I thought 2400 baud was the highest available at the time of purchase.. I moved to North Dakota and discovered the monthly BBS list in Computer Shopper catalog.
I was lucky to have 3 BBS to use and every day I would reach my limit. The BBSes were busy and I heard many busy signals.
I studied the modem language and AT controls and carefully crafted AT command strings which would help achieve the fastest Touchtone durations, fastest disconnects on busy signals, and instantly redial.
It was always exciting to experimment with AT command strings.
'93 I got a 14.4K modem from my wife, and learned how to make the AT command strings be persistent to acheive a handshake at the highest rate.
I added a 28.8K modem near the end of '94 when I was running a free 2-line BBS with Excalibur BBS (Windows 3.11).
I used the attitude that Rusy & Edie's BBS used, free, unlimited.
Exciting times, to me.. I was kinda late as a sysop and became a bit bitter at the Internet becoming a public interest.
 

Caluser2000

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New Zealand
Used a 2400bps modem for a bit in the early 90s. Made the jump and got an internal 14.4k quite quickly after that. Next was an external US Robotics 28.8 after that an external 52k DynaLink one. Had that on my win98 box until about a year and a half ago until the family convinced me to get a broardband connection. I think the maximum transmission speed was something like 48k though.

I've collected a number of older modems. Mostly internals from trashed systems. The one I like the most is an external 2400bps DynaLink one designed for laptops and can be powered by a couple of batteries if need be. It connects directly to the serial port, no ungainly serial cables. Quite compact about 4"-5" long and around 2" wide. Not sure how long the batteries would last though. Saved it from recycling.
 
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Caluser2000

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I'd imagine their fax capability would still be useful as well. Even in this day and age some firms still insist on faxes for some transactions.
 

Ole Juul

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I'd imagine their fax capability would still be useful as well. Even in this day and age some firms still insist on faxes for some transactions.

It's theroetically useful, but most people probably use a fax machine. I think their normal speed is 14.4, with a dropdown to the older 9600 if needed. I've also heard of them being able to drop as low as 2400, but that is still not a computer with a modem. Yes, it's amazing how popular fax still is. I recently heard that it is even more popular in Japan.
 

vwestlife

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central NJ
It's theroetically useful, but most people probably use a fax machine. I think their normal speed is 14.4, with a dropdown to the older 9600 if needed. I've also heard of them being able to drop as low as 2400, but that is still not a computer with a modem. Yes, it's amazing how popular fax still is. I recently heard that it is even more popular in Japan.

"Super G3" fax machines use V.34bis, which allows up to 33.6 kbps.

Law firms and real estate agencies still use fax machines heavily.
 
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