Modems: 60 years of hooking up

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

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Acoustic Coupling 

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In the days of the AT&T phone monopoly, only AT&T had the right to connect electronic devices directly to its telephone network. Companies got around this restriction by inventing the acoustic coupler, which hooked a radio or modem to the telephone system via a cradle in which the user placed a standard phone handset. This way, the modem would be acoustically but not electronically linked, thereby avoiding any possibility of "damage" to the phone system.

Photo: Jose Guerrera

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