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Where Are The Founders Of The Dial-Up Revolution? 295

RIMBoy writes "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently tracked down the founders behind the dial-up modem revolution. The founders of Hayes Micromodem set the standard with their AT Command set. While Dennis Hayes finds himself inducted into the Computer Industry Hall of Fame, at the same time he is broke (with a stop as a bar owner) and trying to find the next big thing. Dale Heatherington cashed out early and has dedicated himself to several projects, including ham radio."
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Where Are The Founders Of The Dial-Up Revolution?

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  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:07PM (#7601878)
    They're waiting patiently for the web to load.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:13PM (#7601948)
      I remember sitting eagerly in front of my 386, waiting for a single GIF from the adult door of the BBS to download at 1200bps. Then it always turned out to be something crappy that I wasted 5 minutes to download. Porn in those days was so difficult!

      That damn callback verification feature always woke up my mom in the middle of the night when I was cruising the BBS's for porn... Thank god for these "always on" connections!

      Rate Naked People [] at FuckMeter! Not work safe (unless your boss likes pr0n)
    • Re:Easy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TowerTwo ( 237512 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:23PM (#7602038)
      Having been in this business since about the same time as Hayes, Katz and others you obviously have no idea what the difference between a acoustic coupler modem to, 300 baud, to 1200 baud, to 2400 baud and what we have now meant. Hayes was the standard after acoustic coupler. It defined everything up to 19.2k. When their designed reached the speed where I could not type fast enough to keep up, they changed the world.

      Don't think about the web, think about your keystrokes think about those who saw they could send much more then just text for the first time.
      (Never mind sending a 1 meg file for 60 minutes).

    • Re:Easy (Score:3, Funny)

      by nizo ( 81281 )
      Actually, I think one of the reasons my blood pressure was so high back in college was because I had to wait ten minutes while the two page message of the day scrolled by each time I logged in with my 300bps modem. Boy was I excited when I learned which dotfile to create to not see the motd file!
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Funny)

      by drix ( 4602 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:41PM (#7602232) Homepage
      I'm came bit later than the truely nostalgic crowd, but I do distinctively remember as an 8-year-old my trusty Hayes 1200 baud modem with its distinctive metal case and red LEDs. I think I tried to download 600k Wolf 3D about 7 times over two weeks... frickin' Ymodem-G with no error tolerance whatsoever. I'd leave it downloading when I left for school and my mom picked up the phone every time. Finally someone gave it to me on a floppy... and that was how started learning about virii :)

      Them were the days
      • Re:Easy (Score:3, Funny)

        by i81b4u ( 716138 )
        1200 baud!!??? Back in my day we had to use two sticks and a log to pound out binary code and hope to God that someone on the other end of town heard us! Young wipper snappers.......
      • I guess the BBS didn't offer ZModem transfer?

        Also think about us who had to surf BBS'es in other countries using International calls. Can you say expensive? LOL! Thank god for a large company with unlimited international calls :)

        My first experience was with acoustic couplers, placing the phone handset into the suction cups after calling on a rotary dial and receiving the 'noise'! ahhh good old days... Did I say Good? By golly, I don't even wanna think about it! These days I get a 2 CD set of the latest
  • Duh (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They are working at AOL.

    Blogzine []
    Fortress of Insanity []
  • by BillsPetMonkey ( 654200 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:07PM (#7601882)
    Where are the founders of the broadband revolution?

    Working in bars, claiming benefits etc. etc.
  • think about it.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neo8750 ( 566137 ) <(ten.ikspez) (ta) (ikspez)> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:08PM (#7601889) Homepage
    what would our world be like this technology wouldn't of been explored and helped along the way. i highly doubt the internet would be where it is today let alone any other form of technology.
    • what would our world be like this technology wouldn't of been explored and helped along the way. i highly doubt the internet would be where it is today let alone any other form of technology.

      at one point, the internet was mostly dial up. don't you remember waiting patiently for that uucp script to cron so you could get your email?

    • poster wrote:
      what would our world be like this technology wouldn't of been explored and helped along the way. i highly doubt the internet would be where it is today let alone any other form of technology.

      Ah-ha - now we know who to blame!!! Seriously, it didn't have THAT much of an impact on other technologies. Not all technology is internet-related, not even most computer technology. Sheesh~

  • well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rootofevil ( 188401 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:08PM (#7601897) Homepage Journal
    the revolutionaries never make any money. they care too much about their ideas to be hardassed enough to profit. its always the people who come around later that just see a business opportunity.
    • Re:well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kisrael ( 134664 ) *
      the revolutionaries never make any money. they care too much about their ideas to be hardassed enough to profit. its always the people who come around later that just see a business opportunity.

      Yeah, but it's those hardassed people seeing a business opportunity that bring the technology to the masses, away from ivory towers and geek playgrounds. And when you have competition, that's what makes things affordable. That's what capitalism does well. It's not always free from problems, what with monopolies an
      • Re:well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

        It's not always free from problems, what with monopolies and a shortage of long-term thinking, but it is why I had a 9600 baud modem in 1994 and a direct connection to the whole damn Internet in my study today.

        Um. I'd attribute that to legislation. Sure, it might have happened if we didn't regulate telecom the way we do, but... as it happened, it doesn't feel like capitalism to me.
    • Re:well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

      For years and years, Hayes defined modem technology. Far from being "too hardassed to profit", they were too profit-oriented to meet the market. They failed to make their products cheap enough for the home user, so USRobotics and other clonemakers won the modem wars.

    • If you read the article, you would see that both creators of the AT command set made a lot of money. One is still rich, and the other lost his fortune.
    • Re:well duh (Score:3, Funny)

      by ccp ( 127147 )
      the revolutionaries never make any money. they care too much about their ideas to be hardassed enough to profit. its always the people who come around later that just see a business opportunity.

      No, if they refuse a 140 million offer they certainly don't.

    • I think you're right, and I also think that revolutionaries are willing to sacrifice monopoly exclusionary behavior in the name of adoption or openness, which seems to be critical at getting new technology going. You can introduce a new monopoly technology, but you need a monopoly to introduce it into (eg, Win2k for Win98).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    for everyone who is broke after doing net related buisness, I wouldn't be broke.
  • sounds kinda sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) * <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:10PM (#7601918) Journal
    at least at first, but then we remember stories like this one [] and realize maybe it ain't as bad as it could be.
  • by overbyj ( 696078 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:12PM (#7601941)
    Certainly, hooking up on a modem was one of the things that made my computer cool compared to other people that didn't have one. Those were the days when you would dial up some BB and hear EEEEE aaaaaa iiiii shhhhhh oooo bong bong bing (you get the point....)

    I remember cruising along with my 1200 baud modem why others were stuck with 300 baud! Too bad that these guys are now out in the cold (figuratively speaking, though maybe for some, literally) because it was modems that people used to first connect to the internet, not DSL or cable. Modems unfortunately will become nothing more than a tale that we can tell our grandkids about many years from now.

    "Back in my day, we didn't have these fancy wireless petabit connections. We had to use 300 baud modems over the telephone (uphill, both ways by the way!) and we liked it!"
    • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:57PM (#7602413) Journal
      Those were the days when you would dial up some BB and hear EEEEE aaaaaa iiiii shhhhhh oooo bong bong bing (you get the point....)

      Ah, but if you concentrate you'll remember that before 56k (or maybe 28.8) modems, it didn't do the boing boing noise at the end. It ended with the static sshhhhhhh, (and maybe had a short even "aeaea" tone or two over the static), and then cut out. The boing boing sound was a shocking late development in modem handshaking art.
  • 56K limit... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dameron ( 307970 )
    Why 56k seems to be the limit on dialup speeds. I remember a good deal of speed ramping in the late 80s early 90s having used everything from a 300 baud KayPro modem to 1200 baud, 2400, 9600, 14.4, 28.8 and 56k but then nothing much since then. Diamond MM had a "shotgun" modem with two 56k connections, but that wasn't practical.

    So, if anyone knows, why 56k and not more, and is there any research into anything beyond 56K for dialup?

    • Legal, not technical (Score:5, Informative)

      by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:18PM (#7601992)
      I remember reading that the 56K limit was legal, not technical (and that this legal limit is actually something like 53K:

      "In the U.S., the FCC places a power ceiling on phone lines of -12dbm average per 3 second interval. X2 modems work within this by restricting throughput to 53kbps in the U.S. X2 modems can theoretically work at 56k, although they are constrained to operate 5% slower than this in the U.S. (Some users have reported occasional connections past 53kbps.)"

      (from this page []
      • by blogboy ( 638908 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:24PM (#7602061)
        I worked for R&D at US Robotics for the first 56K rollout. Cots in the lab, X2 coffee (twice the grounds) as I used to call it, all week and weekend, to beat Rockwell to the punch. And we did. The first batches of course hit in mid-40's but steadily improved. Rockwell would *report* 53K or so but the actual thruput was far less. It was one of the last great times in R&D I had. Line noise is the limit. It explots the digital switching on the network. Good times.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Hey, maybe you can answer something for me. USR sent out some free Sportsters with special ROMs loaded around 1996. They included a program and a request to call certain phone numbers and let it generate a data file. Then you dialed the BBS and uploaded the file. After that, you could pop in another ROM and it became a normal 33.6 PnP model.

          My guess is that they were doing this to test the phone systems all over the country to see if X2 was viable. I figured they picked me because I was in on the sys
          • by blogboy ( 638908 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @04:12PM (#7602590)
            Yes, I remember that X2 analysis feature, don't remember the commands tho :) The USR BBS were X2 Total Control racks. Part of the negotiation is a line analysis phase, which was used to determine the best protocol to use (that's the bonging noises testing for 56K capability.)

            I think the V.FC couriers needed a daughterboard upgrade in order to support the X2/56K code; the V.34's just needed to flash update their ROM. USR supported the hell out of their Couriers--they knew who their important customers were IMO.

            The Whitney was USR's most reliable platform. You could tell what board you had by the last few numbers of your modem's serial number. I think if it ended with 00 you had a Whitney.

            Don't know the Courier daughterboard name. There was no Houston IIRC. The modem names were based on Harley Davidson motorcycle names (Courier, Sportster) Not sure where the internal board names came from...

      • And that 53k is only in one direction. downstream. To dial in and receive at 56k, the other side has to be a digital line, ala ISDN. Upstream is only 33.6k
      • by Burdell ( 228580 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:47PM (#7602298)
        The "53k" limit was a problem with the way X2 worked. Blaming it on the FCC is just a marketing scam; the fact is that the US Robotics engineers couldn't make X2 hit 56k and still work within the pre-defined limits of the telephone system, so they tried to blame someone else.

        Lucent's 56k system could actually do 56k and stay within the limits, but the v.90 standard didn't use Lucent's technology for that.

        As to why nothing is more than 56k: that is all that a standard voice line (or POTS line, for Plain Old Telephone System) can do. A POTS line is carried within a DS0 (the base channel of the phone system), and a DS0 is 64k. You can't get all 64k though, because many voice lines use "robbed bit" signalling that takes one of every eight bits to handle switch communication. Getting 56k at all requires that one end be a digital line (ISDN BRI or PRI or channelized T1); you can't push 56k through the analog to digital conversion otherwise.

        The "what's next" for the telephone system is already here; it is DSL. DSL uses different frequency bands that are not used for POTS lines but that can be carried over the same copper reliably (more or less). However, DSL is not a switched circuit like a modem connection; the DSL frequencies are pulled off the line (by a DSLAM, DSL Access Multiplexer) before the line connects to the regular phone network. So, you can't "dial" a different DSL provider or your friend's house; you can only be connected to one service (and any changes require a call to the DSLAM owner, usually the phone company).

        The other "what's next" was ISDN, which would give you the full 64k channel (because signalling is always done on a separate dedicated channel with ISDN), or 128k if you use both channels (the base ISDN line is a BRI, which has 2 64k data channels plus a signalling channel). However, ISDN use was slowed because it was complicated to configure (you couldn't just plug a phone in and use it), required all new equipment, and even the telcos really never understood it well (so when there was a problem, it could take weeks to get it fixed).

    • Re:56K limit... (Score:5, Informative)

      by crow ( 16139 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:21PM (#7602023) Homepage Journal
      Because that's all the bandwidth there is.

      Most calls get digitized by the phone company, and the 53K modems take that into account to get almost all of the theoretical bandwidth. I know someone will correct me, but I think that most phone calls are digitized as 64Kb data streams. There may be some overhead in that, lowering the theoretical maximum throughput.

      Of course, if all the phone companies upgraded their equipment to some different standard, they could probably support significantly higher data rates. But then again, isn't that called DSL?
      • Re:56K limit... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I know someone will correct me, but I think that most phone calls are digitized as 64Kb data streams.

        You asked for it ... ;)

        In the US the phone lines are digitized with 8000 Hz and 7 bits, resulting in a bandwidth of 56 kbps. In Europe 8 bits are used, giving 64 kbps. I can't remember off-hand what Japan uses (they mix happily european and US standards )

        So you can't go above 56k and hope to sell your modems in the US, thus losing at least half of your potential customers. It's just not theoretically

        • Re:56K limit... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by RobKow ( 1787 )
          The difference is that US lines tend to use in-band signaling and get 24 lines to a DS1 whereas Europe tends to use ISDN which gets 23 lines to a DS1 with a separate line for signaling (call setup/takedown, dialing, etc.).

          So the maximum usable bandwidth of the lines in the US is 56k with the degredation from the in-band signaling (which may account for the high bit).
          • Actually in europe they have E1 (~2 mbit as apposed to ~1.5mbit total), not a T1(aka DS1) with 30 channels and they can and do run something they call "E1 PRI" over those for 29 B channels and a D channel.

            What you described is US PRI T1 which is 23 B channels with a D channel in the US at 64K each(this is what isdn service is based on, you can also run standard telco calls over them). US also has the standard T1 which is 24 channels as you described.

            In Japan they call theirs a J1 (or PRI J1) and its bas
      • Of course, if all the phone companies upgraded their equipment to some different standard, they could probably support significantly higher data rates. But then again, isn't that called DSL?

        I don't want to start some flame war, but telcos can't simply upgrade equipment to get higher bandwidth from pots lines. The entire phone system is based on these 64kbit blocks, which are time division channels that make up T1-T3 (and higher) circuits. It would be more a matter of rewriting telco standards that date
    • Re:56K limit... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mdmarkus ( 522132 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:28PM (#7602092)
      Between the Central Offices, the connections are digital and multiplexed. The amount dedicated to each channel is 64k with 8k used for switching information. So while it's possible to run better than 56k over a phone line pair (DSL does it at least for limited distances), once you hit the CO, the 56k limit comes into play.
    • Some of it is because of the sample limit of the equipment at the other end of the copper, which I think is around 64kbps. ISDN gets around this simply by bypassing the analog stages. Now it is DSL on the other end of said wire which makes it really the next generation "telephone modem" although neither ISDN nor DSL really seem to have any analog component.

      I really don't think that is relevant because so few really saw much more than 33.6k
  • Just look at:

    1. Hayes: Dennis Hayes stays with company, guy who did the technical work, Dale Heatherington, leaves
    2. Microsoft: Bill Gates stays with company, guy who did the techincal work, Paul Allen, leaves
    3. Apple: Steve Jobs stays with the company, guy who did the techincal work, Steve Wozniak, leaves

    So seems like techies have all the fun: start a company, keep a low profile, get rich, and then quit. That way the techie gets to spend the rest of their lives with enough money to just hack!


    The story was meant to be a sad reflection on Hayes-the-man, ended up making me feel good about being a geek.

    • Don't forget this (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NDPTAL85 ( 260093 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:27PM (#7602082)
      I know people like to gloss over this stuff but it needs to be restated.

      Gates and Jobs were both programmers in their own right. Just because they didn't STICK with the hardcore tech side doesn't mean they were never there to begin with.

      Gates coded early versions of Basic software/DOS and Jobs coded Atari games and helped manufacture the first Apple's.
      • Re:Don't forget this (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thogard ( 43403 )
        Could Gates code? A friend of mine called in a bug report on one of the early assemblers since it didn't understand a specifc opcode. Billy Gates answered the phone and fixed the program to deal with the new opcode. The problem is that his fix wasn't by adding it to the opcode table like it should have been, he hard coded in a special check. That special check required the opcode to be in all CAPs and didn't deal with operands at all.

        I figure Gates was the sort of boss that though he could code and his
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:36PM (#7602176)
      > The story was meant to be a sad reflection on Hayes-the-man, ended up making me feel good about being a geek.

      Hear, hear.

      Don't get me wrong, they're both hackers, and I'd be honored to buy either of 'em a beer. But the most inspirational thing of that article was seeing that Heatherington didn't just get out with the cash -- but that because he took the money and ran, and lived within his means, he's still hacking hardware for the sheer fun of it.

      Before I grow up, I wanna be like Heatherington.

      • by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:45PM (#7602270) Homepage
        Agreed. Heatherington has now become my idol:

        While Hayes dreamed of empire, Heatherington dreamed of quitting.

        It's one of life's paradoxes that those who are most able to accumulate lots of $$ are those who are least able to enjoy it. It's nice to find someone who can enjoy it.

      • >but that because he took the money and ran, and lived within his means, he's still hacking hardware for the sheer fun of it.

        Its not that hard to live within your means with $20 million.

        • Its not that hard to live within your means with $20 million.

          No it's not, but it's absolutely amazing how many people can't. Look at virtually any lottery winner, most pop stars, or anyone else who goes from millionaire to zilch.

          If you've got $20M in the bank, your yearly operating budget is a "mere" $1,00,000. Certainly more than enough to live on anywhere in the world, and live very comfortably, but you can't go spending money on anything you want to, and you probably can't afford to own more than 3 ho
        • Depends on whether or not your name is Micheal Jackson:

 21 people.html
        • > >but that because he took the money and ran, and lived within his means, he's still hacking hardware for the sheer fun of it.
          > Its not that hard to live within your means with $20 million.

          Tell that to every lottery jackpot winner, pro athlete, rock star, and dot-commer who "made it big", only to run out of cash within a few years

          For that matter, (and this is the sad part of the article) tell that to Dennis Hayes.

    • Steve Jobs never in his life did any tech woprk Woz was the one..
      • Steve Jobs never in his life did any tech woprk Woz was the one..

        Actually, a four second google search would reveal this link []. Here's the relevant part (emphasis mine):

        Going to work for Atari after leaving Reed College, Jobs renewed his friendship with Steve Wozniak.

        The two designed computer games for Atari and a telephone "blue box", getting much of their impetus from the Homebrew Computer Club. Beginning work in the Job's family garage they managed to make their first "killing" when the Byte Shop in

    • Don't forget a few other notable pairs, like:

      Ward Christenson writes MODEM7 and CBBS, while Randy Suess slings the solder. Ward is forgotten, while Randy starts Chinet, one of Chicago's first publicly-available UNIX systems, complete with e-mail *and* Usenet news :)

      Karl Deninger and Randy Suess - Randy runs Chinet while Karl learns about UNIX on it, then Karl starts his own ISP - MCS.Net.

      I lost track of that whole crowd many moons ago, when I moved away. Haven't heard about any of them, but far as I kn
    • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <traehtfiws>> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:54PM (#7602380)
      The story was meant to be a sad reflection on Hayes-the-man, ended up making me feel good about being a geek.

      Indeed, it is interesting...the comparisons are interesting as well.

      *Gates likes to surround himself with really bright people and good managers. Hayes, according to the article, tried to run everything himself.

      *Jobs was a brillaint visionary all by himself. His problems in his early years stemmed from bullheadedness and personality conflicts. I suspect getting older has tamed him.

      *Hayes would have had a good sum of money if it had not been for two very messy divorces.

      Now he's being raked over the coals in child support (which I suspect was set to a level that reflected his original high net worth.)

      The whole issue with child support is so ugly that I'm coming around to the idea that you would have to be a fool to father children. Get em snipped now, you'll save yourself a lot of hell in the long run.

      That, or I'll start a company that would collect insurance premiums now and protect you from child support payments in the future. That could work.

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @04:30PM (#7602764) Journal
      I think there's a LOT to be learned from analyzing this combination of personalities.

      While it's true that the techies seem to "have all the fun" in these scenarios - it's also equally true that the techies needed the business-oriented/business-building personalities of their partners, in order to get themselves into a situation where their contributions became valuable enough to allow them to leave with a big "wad of cash".

      Really, after reading the Hayes/Heatherton article, it appeared to me that Hayes' biggest reason for eventual disaster was a lack of any inventive/R&D motivated people working for him after Heatherton bailed out. Certainly, Hayes achieved all the brand name recognition and marketplace respect a tech. company could ever want. Properly run, his company could have been building, say, the #1 most popular DSL and/or cable modems used today.

      I think Apple Computer thrives for exactly this reason. Steve Jobs is acutely aware that his company has to innovate -- never imitate. He may not be the mastermind behind any of the ideas, but he hires the types of people who can create cool looking and working devices/software.

      The trick is, if you're going to be a "Hayes", keep hiring new "Heathertons" as your earlier ones get burnt out or want to move on.
    • What I see here is that in most cases when the suits edge the techs out, the company in question starts to go downhill. The exception might be Microsoft-they've managed to make money even if their products have serious quality and security problems--but that may just be because Microsoft is in a very special niche.
  • BBS Documentary (Score:5, Informative)

    by jkeegan ( 35099 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:13PM (#7601956) Homepage Journal
    It's been covered on slashdot many times so I'm sure people will remember, but there is a BBS Documentary [] in the works.

    The history of such revolutions should be documented for future generations to learn from.
    • I had the pleasure of sitting down for two hours with Jason Scott while he was in town to interview Dr. Vint Cerf. While I suspect my own interview wasn't particularly interesting, the DVD's will be a "must-have," just because those long-ago days were so important to my own formation.

      I'm glad you pointed this out. Now I'll know when to look for the release.

  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:21PM (#7602018) Journal
    and dialed until I found this AT command Set []

    Relive the good ol' days at []

  • If early on he had taken the company public and brought in professional managers, "the guy would be a billionaire today."

    If the bust taught us anything, it's that taking a company public while trusting professional managers is the quickest way to get yourself a big fat tax loss.

  • by mattACK ( 90482 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:23PM (#7602042) Homepage

    Connected at 1200 baud
    Welcome to the Diesel Driving Academy BBS. The road starts right here!
    If you haven't been innundated by their commercials, this might not make sense to you.

  • XModem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wombatmobile ( 623057 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:24PM (#7602045)

    Everybody who knows Hayes remembers Ward Christensen's Xmodem file transfer protocol.

    This was Ward in 1980 []. I wonder where he is now?
    • by netringer ( 319831 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:53PM (#7602371) Journal
      Everybody who knows Hayes remembers Ward Christensen's Xmodem file transfer protocol. This was Ward in 1980. I wonder where he is now?
      Ward Christensen is right here! []

      More importantly, as I've mentioned Ward, with Randy Suess, also INVENTED THE BBS when this very same Dennis Hayes sent them one of his original 300 baud autodial/auto-answer modems.

      Ward will tell you fun details like why CBBS looks for the modem's RING result and then sends the ATO to make the modem answer. CBBS never puts the modem into auto-answer mode.

      Why? So that if the CBBS program wasn't running happily, the caller wouldn't waste money on an answered phone call to a BBS that wasn't working.

      Ward takes more credit for CBBS than the MODEM* protocol because MODEM was written quickly to fix a problem (sending program files to Randy over the modem-modem link) but CBBS was planned. Ward says MODEM was a response "like a sneeze" He doesn't like taking credit for a sneeze.

      * - The real name of the protocol is MODEM. Ward's original MODEM comm program had an option to auto-receive files,. XMODEM was MODEM with the option. When you're the first you don't put in version qualifiers.

    • XMODEM, YMODEM and ZMODEM. I liked XMODEM and YMODEM but I loved ZMODEM because it got files in bigger 1024kbit chunks?

      KERMIT, on the other hand, was a big fat peice of junk. Would take forever to download stuff.

      I still feel wierd being hooked up to the internet without having heard my modem screech. :)
      • Re:XModem (Score:3, Informative)

        by MavEtJu ( 241979 )
        I loved ZMODEM because it got files in bigger 1024kbit chunks?

        Hold your horses, zmodem only went to 8192 byte blocks. 1Mb blocks would suck if you had to wait 20 minutes for each block to be retransmitted :-)

  • by RevMike ( 632002 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:28PM (#7602094) Journal

    I'm proud to initiate the Xmodem vs Kermit flamewar.

    Let's get ready to RUMBLE!

    Extra points for anyone who can segue smoothly into an Anti-Bush/Anti-US rant.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:58PM (#7602422)
      Kermit is so fucking typical of you government types. Send a bit across the wire. Ask everyone if it's okay. Send another bit. Anyone got a problem yet? Sure, if I accidentally pick up the phone during a Kermit transfer, my session will still be valid. But you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater! It's too fucking slow! You'll never get the data! You gotta use something like Zmodem which gives the best compression.

      It's just like the airports now-a-days. President Bush has made so many regulations I can't even ride the plane! I checked in and went through security, and I was supposed to fly out at 11:40. But they oversold and gave me a seat on a different airline at 12:40. By the time I got to the other side of the enormous government-run airport, it was 12:30 -- and they didn't have any George Bush agents to search through my belongings _again_ to make sure that I still wasn't a crazy terrorist. So I missed the plane because George Bush wants too many intrusive, redundant regulations! Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, that's what I call it. I wish Bush had learned from the whole Kermit debacle.
    • by angst_ridden_hipster ( 23104 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @04:01PM (#7602465) Homepage Journal
      OK. I'm always up for a challenge...

      Dude, XModem sucks! Use ZModem! But whatever you do, don't even think of using Kermit. After all, if you remember Operation Sundevil back in ... what was it ... '92? Someone from Steve Jackson Games explains to a Secret Service guy that Kermit's a 7-bit protocol, and they raided the shop because "only a hacker" would know that (that is, after the SS figured out that Kermit wasn't a specific person). Gives you some insight into the United States intelligence services, doesn't it? Talk about oxymorons... and hey, while we're on the subject of morons, what about the Chimp In Chief, eh? I understand he went to Iraq for Thanksgiving ... great. Piss off the Kurds by bringing Turkey into the whole situation...

  • I bought two Smartmodem 300s when they first came out. I remember when I called the distributor they had never heard of them. Before we were using Universal Data Systems line-powered modems. These didn't have dialers so being able to dial from a terminal or application was like magic. Hayes also made a Smartclock which was just a clock with a RS232 interface but it was simpler and cheaper than anything else on the market.
  • Dale Heatherington (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chroma ( 33185 ) <chroma@mindsp[ ] ['rin' in gap]> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:31PM (#7602142) Homepage
    I've met him a few times at Robot Battles [], where we both compete. Dale is the only guy I know of who not only builds robots, but also:
    1. makes his own radio control system
    2. builds his own motor controllers
    3. winds his own motors
    • by chroma ( 33185 )
      I should also point out that although I've spoken with Dale many times, and even visited his lovely home, this article was a bit of a revelation to me. I had no idea that he was connected to Hayes. When I asked him what he did before retiring, he simply told me that he was an electrical engineer.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:36PM (#7602183) Homepage
    Back in 1995/1996 when 56K modems were becoming the rage I also folded shop and sold my mid-sized ISP that was serving 2 cities. Hayes modem cards in a 19 inch rack chassi were the standard then, 33.6 was the MAX you could get on a good day and ISP's like me that spent the long dollar for the real modems instead of a pile of crap sportsters like one company I remember you could get that speed. (I started as an ISP when 14.400 was the fastest you could get.)

    56K killed it for most of us... T1's required for incoming lines as well as horribly priced interfaces for the 56K dial up side made it impossible for the medium/small guy to survive. the Small towns I was going into and started out with 3-4 modems now had a minimum of 24 incoming lines because of the T1 requirement. each dial in node now doubled all it's costs for operation and quadrupled it's costs for equipment.

    Dial-up died when 56K came around.

    • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:39PM (#7602210)
      That 56K killed the dialup star?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As the former owner/president/CTO/janitor of a moderately successful ISP who got out in '99, the worst part about the advent of the 56K lines and their dependence on PRI circuits is that the telco (NYNEX in this case) refused to transfer long-term commitments for analog lines into commitments for the digital circuits. We were left holding the bag for about 60 POTS lines because we'd gone with a long-term Centrex contract.

      We made a little money when we sold (got out just in time!) but if I hadn't had to pa
    • Back in Spokane, most of the ISP's moved to the local Telco/bank building where we could buy T1's without haul charges. They just had to wire cat5 down to our room's. (Couple ladders, and you had a t1 hooked up that afternoon.)

      With a room for a couple hundred, and savings per T1, a few livingston portmasters, and bam. ISP was 56K enabled. Being in the telco building also helped when you needed more digital circuits.

      I left the small mom and pop ISP business and went to work for a telco before DSL came out.
  • kermit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ftide ( 454731 )
    In many ways kermit and its ymodem/zmodem counterparts are better then TCP/IP. Kermit is fast for BBS style transactions, simple and has no exploits! (L4m3 deprecated DOS stuff notwithstanding)

    Who's down for developing a ppp-centered, kermit-over-IP protocol for places communicating by telephone only? I wrote a whitepaper on this and sent it to the Redhat/K12 newsletter.

    Does anyone have easy to decipher conversion specs for baud xfer and UART? I've speculated most of the work is in hardware translatio

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:38PM (#7602204)
    I was in that bar once.

    To get his attention, you'd to yell: +++
    • by drox ( 18559 )
      To get his attention, you'd to yell: +++

      I tried that and they cut me off!

      (AT H0 gets you cut off too)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:40PM (#7602219)
    After reading some of the pompous replies in the recent Linux Certification topic, it's worth pointing out that Heatherington was not a 4-year CS major:

    The company was recruiting people with master's degrees and Ph.D.s. Heatherington had a two-year degree from a technical college. "I think he felt funny having that kind of horsepower looking to him for guidance," Hayes says.

    Keep that in mind when you sit there complaining about all us 'pseudo-engineers' that didn't have the cash to get a degree, but had the brains to make a difference in computing.
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:42PM (#7602239)
    He's not a millionaire anymore with ex-wives taking most of his income. Kind of sad. No wonder people aren't getting married anymore.
    • It hardly matters, when even living with someone for a few months gives them the same "rights" as a married spouse.

      The wise man in the 21st Century gets good and used to living as a bachelor and never, ever enjoying sex without a metaphorical garbage bag tied around his sex organ.

      What a time to be alive.

  • by renehollan ( 138013 ) <rhollan@clear w i> on Monday December 01, 2003 @03:48PM (#7602301) Homepage Journal
    ... a 300 baud direct-connect beast made by Hayes. Plunked down some CA$420 at the time.

    I didn't have a computer (yet), but it was a joy to type the appropriate AT commands from my MIME I video terminal (complete with lower case character set!) instead of having to dial the phone.

    Before I had a real computer (a homebrew SWTPC 6809-based clone running Flex), and WAY before I had an IBM PC clone, I built a 6809-based SBC with 4K EPROM, 2K RAM (IIRC, it may have been more, but not much), and three serial ports. I wrote a monitor program for it so I could enter code, in hex, by hand (later, I would write a cross-assembler on Concordia University's CYBER 835 mainframe in Pascal, that spewed out S1S9 records that the monitor could read).

    One of the first programs (hand assembled at the time), was a "RAM-dialer": it would control the Hayes Smartmodem to repeatedly dial one of a set of numbers until it got a data connection -- see in those days most BBSes had one phone line. Bliss!

    Ah, the nostalgia of the early to mid 1980s.

  • As they say... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arashiakari ( 633150 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @04:00PM (#7602457) Homepage
    The pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the corn.
  • C64 Telnet BBS (Score:2, Interesting)

    Everyone's reminiscing about 80's BBSes, so I'll throw in a word about my resurrected dial-up Commodore 64 BBS. (except over Telnet).

    You can call it with a real 64, and there are programs now that support "ATDT" and so on. Call it Hayes 2.0 maybe? :-)

    Call Negative Format BBS - Hosted on a real C64!
    Telnet to or Port 23 []
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @04:41PM (#7602879)
    Video killed the radio star...
    Broadband killed the dialup generation...
    But then reality TV killed MTV...
    Ya gotta figure something will come along and wipe out broadband. My bet is on litigation...
  • What does "defining the Hayes command set" have to do with the dial-up revolution? The invention and development of the modem seems like the key part, not any particular command set. See here [] for a brief history of the modem. Of course, Hayes's company drove down prices, but they would have come down anyway.
  • by DrDeaf ( 108321 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @04:53PM (#7603022)
    The Dial-Up Revolution?

    The AJC reporter writes about Hayes and Heatherington, "making it easier for millions of people around the world to connect to the Internet." Perhaps the reporter didn't know there was anything before the 'net.
    With all deference and due respect to their accomplishment, if we frame the discussion as a "Revolution"... "around the world", then Hayes and Heatherington did build the revolutionary weapon, but the trigger was squeezed by a fellow named Tom Jennings and a few of his friends. That was the shot heard 'round the world.

    Hey! How many here can tell us their nodelisting? Hands?

  • Yo Dennis;

    I have a couple of S-100 300 baud Modem Boards of yours that needs service.... It isn't even clear to me if it *ever* worked being serial numbers below 50.

    Where shall I send them?


    -- Multics

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