Making a difference – Modems

Twenty years ago, the Hayes Smartmodem and its associated command set was the de-facto standard, to the point that other vendors marketed their products as “Hayes compatible.”

Attempts to define new standards ultimately failed because users did not want to have to hunt down the make of the modem used by their favourite online service so they could connect. However, Hayes lost another standards battle: that of the compression scheme allowing high-speed data transmission. U.S. Robotics triumphed there, but later ran into difficulties of its own, was acquired by 3Com, and later spun off again. However, USR managed to survive, and still sells its popular Sportster and Courier modems today; Hayes did not, after betting the company on the notion that ISDN would replace POTS for home data connections.

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