Modems: 60 years of hooking up

A visual guide to the history of the modem, from the 1950s to today.

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The First Civilian Commercial Computer Modem 

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In 1962, AT&T introduced the Bell 103 Data Phone (seen here), which set the standard for 300-baud (approximately 300-bps) full-duplex modems. Until 1984, AT&T held a monopoly on the phone system in the United States, so only AT&T could provide modems to work on its network. The monopoly stifled modem innovation until the 1968 Carterfone decision opened the market for third-party phone devices, albeit in a limited fashion.

Photos: AT&T

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