1964 300baud modem surfs the web

[phreakmonkey] got his hands on a great piece of old tech. It’s a 1964 Livermore Data Systems Model A Acoustic Coupler Modem. He recieved it in 1989 and recently decided to see if it would actually work. It took some digging to find a proper D25 adapter and even then the original serial adapter wasn’t working because the oscillator depends on the serial voltage. He dials in and connects at 300baud. Then logs into a remote system and fires up lynx to load Wikipedia. Lucky for [phreakmonkey] they managed to decide on a modulation standard in 1962. It’s still amazing to see this machine working 45 years later. He’d love to hear from you if you’ve used a similar device.

[via Waxy]

103 thoughts on “1964 300baud modem surfs the web

  1. absolutely awesome this stuff still works
    im sure the modem i’m using now will not be working any more in forty years (or the standard it reies on wont be existent any more)

  2. hope he changed his username/password for every machine he accessed in the video, since he decided to type it all in front of the camera (even the dialup number).

  3. I dug out my old grid laptop to see if it would still but up. I thought it was busted because it took forever to get to the command prompt, booting off a 720K floppy. I just may put the old girl to work a node to revive the slow amateur radio PBBS system in this area.

    I wonder what it would take to use our computers today, to return to the old POTS BBS’ if the Internet become unavailable for some reason?
    Fun to watch the video. getting the new to work with the old is the oldest type of hacking, so this post was worthy of hackaday.

  4. I was absoloutly amazed by this. Just amazes me how this kid of kit can work with current day stuff, Okay it requieres intermediary kit to connect to wikipedia, but its very impressive all the same.
    Loved it.

  5. “Here we are, loading wikipedia trough a 300 baud 1960’s modem.”

    i hate to be smart-ass, but’s he’s not loading the page trough the modem. Lynx is getting the page trough the ISP of the company itself. he connects w/ a telnet session to the linux box running Lynx.

    still, pretty amazing!

  6. I’ve got a couple of old 110 baud acoustic coupled modems in my basement. I’ve kept them on hand in case I ever had to “go underground”. Fortunately I haven’t but now you’re making me wanna go dig them up.

  7. wow that is pretty sweet! I was surprised when he put the phone inside the modem box thing then I was like “o shi- it works from the sound!”

    Coolest thing I have seen in a while.

  8. It’s really cool!

    I was wondering if it could be done from a simple uController and some simple tone detector IC (567) & variable frequency oscillator (555).

    If that’s possible then its a really interesting project!

  9. Pretty amazing. I had an oscilloscope about that old. Still worked (still worked for a while).

    Yes, I kind of miss BBSs too, but the internet is better…

  10. I made my little brothers watch this video. I think sometimes they take for granted the broadband connection they use to play games and such. Everyone should have a healthy appreciation for this piece of epic history. I loved this post, thanks alot hack-a-day. Viva La DefCon!

  11. Yes – the accounts / passwords &etc used in the video were temporary for the vid. That’s why I didn’t make any effort to obscure them.

    (Proof: Look closely at the UNIX login. It’s “oldskool”.)

    Also – a few days ago I did get PPP working over it, but it’s unusably slow. DNS alone saturates it. It won’t load a webpage without timing out.

    Thanks for all the cool comments!
    – K.C.

  12. Simply beautiful, impractical as hell, but beautiful.

    @ehrichweiss
    dig it up and show it off, it would be amazing to see something like that still working.

  13. amazing!

    that box that it is inside is beautiful too.

    this looks like it would be a fun electronics project/kit. Make your own modem :D

  14. Thanks, this one sure set the wayback machine to 1973 for me! Our acoustic coupler was only 110 baud, and we had only an ASR 33 teletype for a terminal, but it was still getting online and programming a computer.

    Oh, and you might want to update the wikipedia page on acoustic couplers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_coupler Seems the last author thought the 1968 ACOUSTIC DATA COUPLER MODEM was the first modem ever.

  15. Dang.
    I’m going to have to pull out my Atari 520st (I have a 1040STe also) with its 300 baud acoustic coupler modem and see if I can get it all working, no reason it shouldn’t work I suppose. Man, I still recall those days of downloading some huge file (say 720kB ;) ) only to have someone slam a door in the house 80% of the way though and have the loud noise disturb the modem and it drop the call.

  16. all that is missing is a 14″ monochrome orange display with a hercules graphic card and making sure that the modem had its way with irq settings and dma channels before installing an 8 bit mono soundblaster card, not to mention the com port conflict between com 1 and com 3 ( 1 was mouse,(9 pin serial))….those were fun times indeed!!

  17. This was the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Takes me back to the 2400 baud modem days of cruisin bbs’s and downloading pictures of naked ladies. I still have a tag bbs zipped up from the day I retired it in 95.

  18. Oh how all we “experts” fell about laughing when a customer came in and asked about 2400 baud dial up.
    “Technically impossible etc.”

  19. I remember the best days of my BBS career when I finally realized my 1200 baud modem really ran at 2400. Oh, and also once I finally realized they had terminal programs which support color.

    Oh, the memories.

  20. Used to use a similar device and an 8 bit home micro (and before that an ASR 33 teletype) to connect to various dial up systems in the 80s. Brings back fond memories of character appearing on the screen at reading speed – or slower…

  21. That’s freakin’ cool. This should be required viewing in all computer science schools to remind the whippersnappers just how far we’ve come.

    Imagine trying to load a graphics page, eh? Hit enter, go away for two days.

  22. The first acoustic modem I used was at a finance company to pull credit reports from a printing terminal. There was no monitors yet back then. I eventually had an atari acoustic modem I used with the old eight bit computers. brings back memories.

  23. i saw something very similar in an antiques shop down the road from me about a week ago. gonna go and buy it at the weekend now. i had no idea what it was, but i saw the port on the side and thought it was some kinda of vintage computer stuff.
    i didnt open it, but the port side looked identical. dunno if its got knobs or not. damn if only this video had come out a few weeks ago. im just hoping its not gonna cost me a lot to buy!

  24. lol, i live in livermore. i bet their old location is less than 10 blocks from where i live too, since i’m near the lab

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