Whatever happened to …

… dialup internet access?

You know you’ve been around for quite a while if you have an answer to this!

In today’s society with DSL, wireless, cable, fibre internet access, it may be difficult to believe that there was a time when you had a device connected to your computer (or built into you computer) that connected to a telephone line to make connection to online services.

It may be connecting to Bulletin Boards (does anyone remember Essex Wildcat!) or to a service that connected you to the bigger internet with all that it offered.  By today’s standards, connections were slow but that didn’t really matter.  Most everything was text based; no big fancy jpg, png, gif graphics here.  The truly creative created this with ASCII characters on their keyboard.

Much as we enjoy how we’re connected and how fast it is, it’s still not available everywhere.  If you follow some providers on Twitter, you’ll see an internet provider’s service compared to “dialup speeds” at times!  But, what about those who can’t get the service that we’re so used to?  You have to look long and hard to find any provider that will let you dial in via a telephone line.  Most of us just take it for granted but it’s a real estate agent’s nightmare to confess that the house of your dreams is in an area with no way to get connected to the internet.  But, there’s the library in town.  Oh, and Tim Horton’s.

For this Sunday, what are your thoughts.

  • Did you cut your internet teeth on a dialup connection?
  • Do the numbers 300, 1200, 2400, 28.8, 56K mean anything to you?
  • How about the company names Hayes, USRobotics?
  • What did you do (or what will you do) with that modem?

Please take a moment and share your thoughts with us.

You might be interested in this related “Whatever happened to …” post.

The complete collection of posts in this series is available here.

Got an idea for a future post?  Add it to this padlet.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

9 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Would you believe that I still have a modem hooked up to a really old desktop computer that I never use?! Not sure why I don’t part with it, but it’s still there. I wonder if there are others out there like me. 🙂 Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate to admit it but I think I still have my old USRobotics stored somewhere. Why? I haven’t a clue. There really should be a trip to the recycle place in my future.


  3. I think I’m part of this club, too. Pretty sure there is a modem somewhere in the basement at my house.

    I am decidedly old enough to have had my introduction to virtual community-building be via dial-up. I loved the Ontario teachers community, where I could find out the latest great book that someone was reading, or ask about the best campsite on a particular lake in Algonquin. I loved that particular combination of noises that meant I was about the connect with the wider world.

    I continue to teach in environments where access to Internet is spotty for some of my students (for reasons economic or geographic), but it is not as bad as the days when reports first moved online. Many teachers were forced to come to work on a weekend or stay late because someone had made the assumption that every teacher in the province had access to reasonable Internet speeds at home. That also meant that those of us who were “techie” might have to make a weekend run into school to help solve a problem. I’m glad we’re (mostly) past that.

    I occasionally realize how totally reliant I am on the pleasures of wifi. My mom recently moved from a rural area, where high-speed was not an option, to a spot just outside a small city. I was thrilled, and was then surprised that she had chosen an on-demand, wired-in option. My lovely teenagers (who had not assumed that Nana would have wifi) explained patiently that since my mom really only uses her laptop for e-mail and some research, there was absolutely no reason for her to have wifi. There is one computer in the house, no one has a tablet, and my mom usually keeps her cell phone in the glove compartment, as it’s for emergencies. I was interested (and slightly embarrassed) that I was the one who was surprised at her decision. My own biases were showing through a little!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that it’s a good bias, Lisa. I had to smile; is the car the only place that one is likely to have emergencies? How about in the house when the power goes out?


  4. I started with a 300 baud modem on a TRS-80 — BBS systems all the way. In college I started dialing into the school’s Unix machines and at one point “borrowed” a VT-100 alike from the university to use rather than my IBM-PC.

    Later a few buddies created The Big Electric Cat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Electric_Cat. For a long time, I had 2 phone lines – at least until DSL was offered in my neighborhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved my TRS-80, Mike. I knew it inside and out, I think. I had a Model 100 Radio Shack Portable Computer (the word laptop wasn’t in vogue them) with an internal 300 baud modem and a TRS-80 Model III with a Hayes 1200 baud modem. I thought I had it all!


  5. I remember the agony when someone would accidentally pick up the phone when you were online using dial up and you’d have to go through the whole connecting process again. Never thought to ask our ag not if our new house had internet access since it isn’t in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately it is in the middle of big trees. After four weeks of hanging out at the library and timmies, we’re finally connected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My heart sank, Lisa, when I heard that internet wasn’t possible in your new location and with your studies ahead. I’m so glad that you found a solution.


  6. I had a second phone line installed just so I could connect to the Internet. I started with a 300 baud acoustic coupler modem and a dumb terminal that I connected to a computer at work for a couple of years. When I got that first 2400 baud modem I thought I’d gone to heaven.

    Later I got an early PC and could download files to my computer to work on. That was pretty cool because editing live across a phone line could be very painful.


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