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My God! It's full of krchhhhhhhh... EEEE-errrr EEEE-errrrr... chhhhhhh...
July 27, 2011 11:19 PM   Subscribe


 
Wow, so many years since I've heard that noise in earnest and I still get a little Pavlovian frisson of anticipation when the lighter static changes to deeper static. Here comes the internet! All is well! AOL picked up on the other end and life is about to shine like gold, baby.

I readily concede that always-on, fast internet is something I would not like to do without, but I do sometimes miss that palpable sense of "Oh boy, once the theme music stops playing, tonight's episode of the internet will start and I bet it's going to be AWESOME" I used to feel back in the days of dialup.
posted by troublesome at 11:26 PM on July 27, 2011 [96 favorites]


I can't believe what a visceral reaction I still get during that dial-up sequence. I'm sitting here listening to a freaking youtube video on broadband yet I'm still praying, "pleaseconnect.pleaseconnect,pleaseconnect".

It also reminds my stepfather joked that there were gnomes in the modem... and even though I knew he was joking, I kinda half believed him as an explanation for all those dropped connections.
posted by lesli212 at 11:28 PM on July 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I know! I had every bleep in that sequence burned into my brain....when it goes from eeee to EEEE and back to eee I know I'm 30% there.
posted by nile_red at 11:29 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I used to support dialup software. It saddens me that I can no longer tell you offhand, from the sound, what the settings on that modem were, or even what the speed was. But I could've, once.
posted by darksasami at 11:35 PM on July 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


When I was a little kid, my dad got his hands on one of those computers that reads from a tape deck. One day, he called me over and flipped some kind of switch. The computer made the data/modem/noise you hear above and I FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT. Ran out of the room, into my bedroom, under a desk, sobbing and crying. I can still remember the visceral terror it caused...my little-kid brain just wasn't ready for the shock. Of course, I later came to love that noise as the sound of freedom.
posted by mynameisluka at 11:42 PM on July 27, 2011


or even what the speed was

9200, 9600 or 14400 baud?
posted by dibblda at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2011


Yeah, I remember installing my first 56k modem and being thrilled but also sort of disturbed when the connection sound was different that the 14.4k I'd had for seemingly forever (and the 9600 from before that). That it would be different seemed both obvious and deeply false.
posted by penduluum at 11:45 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The normal-speed version of this was my ringtone for a while. Right now, it's the sounds that come out of an ungrounded speaker when GSM signals are causing interference. MP3s available on request.
posted by migurski at 11:46 PM on July 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow, the slowed version really surprised me with how beautiful it sounded. Like electric choral drones and splashing waves.
posted by Mizu at 11:50 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I want this for my ring tone.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:59 PM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow. 20 years ago, you couldn't have told me people would be even remotely nostalgic about the dial-up sound. In another 20, will you remember fondly the cell phone feedback noise?
posted by crunchland at 12:14 AM on July 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


I used to do tech support for an ISP. After a couple of months on the job, if a customer had two phone lines I'd have them hold the phone up to their modem so I could diagnose the problem. I could tell the difference in dial up speeds and the various 56k variants. I had more than one incredulous customer when I tried to do this.

Most of the time the fix was to stick an extra comma or two in their dialup string so that their modem would skip the 56k handshake and just drop to 33.6. We fixed a lot of "slow connections" that way.
posted by mikesch at 12:25 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


yeah, those were the days; since then Skynet, its self-awareness growing, has learned to hide its give-away spectral soundtrack lest humans be alarmed.
posted by helion at 12:31 AM on July 28, 2011


Baudy.
posted by bwg at 12:32 AM on July 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


It sounds to me like a lot more effects have been applied to the "700% slower" version than just slowing it down.
posted by The Tensor at 12:35 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


"will you remember fondly the cell phone feedback noise?"
Is that what that sound is?
Christ! For the last three years, I've been wondering what the hell that noise was coming through my clock radio, at 6AM?.
Now I just want to break out a sharpened rake and track down the people, responsible.
posted by DonnyMac at 12:50 AM on July 28, 2011


It sounds to me like a lot more effects have been applied to the "700% slower" version than just slowing it down.

Yeah, i think this is done with PaulStretch which does all kinds of things to the slowed down version to make it sound nicer - eg extending the onset of new sounds so they come in softly.
posted by memebake at 1:17 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was fantastic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:19 AM on July 28, 2011


Was that 28.8? 56 had that weird boinging sound at the end right?
posted by Ad hominem at 1:31 AM on July 28, 2011


As I listened to this, all I kept thinking about was the bug in "A Bug's Life" that gushed, "It's beauuuuutifuuuul!" before flying into the zapper.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:32 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the end of the track, I heard what sounded like a seagull cry. Turned out it was -- outside my window. Modem noises ~= IP by avian carrier noises.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:52 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


MODEMM O)))
posted by sidereal at 1:55 AM on July 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Listening to this in bed. If anything is going to summon Teh Aliens, this will.
posted by duffell at 2:11 AM on July 28, 2011


I think we just discovered how Boards Of Canada compose their music.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:25 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am going to second the "paulStretch". These went viral a little bit back:
Jurassic Park * 1000
Justin Beiber * 800
Take on Me * 800
Friday * 800

I think there may be more, but I can't remember them.

Also of note, the Inception sound slowed down through the movie.
posted by jonbro at 2:29 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The slowed down version is beautiful. I can't believe it hasn't been edited. I fact, I don't.
posted by hat_eater at 2:40 AM on July 28, 2011


And yes, I've read the poster's comment (now) and I don't believe him. Gotta hear that again.
posted by hat_eater at 2:42 AM on July 28, 2011


I appreciate my high speed broadband, always on connection and huge download limit, but back in those days the simple act of browsing the web was such a novelty that I keenly awaited hearing this sound and enjoyed what little time my parents allowed me on the internet.
posted by _frog at 2:48 AM on July 28, 2011


you do know what makes that sound, don't you?
posted by sexyrobot at 2:49 AM on July 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


The slowed-down version became a soundtrack to my aggravation over the simplified internet diagram. As I stared at the illustration, I found myself thinking, "It's computer, modem, phone line, phone company/RBOC, satellite, RBOC, phone line, modem/router, internet service provider." Ssssssssshhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeessssssssshhhhhhhhh.........
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:50 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once whistled a 300 baud carrier tone back down the line which put the receiving modem into CONNECT mode...
posted by benzo8 at 2:58 AM on July 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I once whistled into a mic of my deck connected to my ZX Spectrum and I managed to get the stripes on the screen, although they were rather wobbly.
posted by hat_eater at 3:05 AM on July 28, 2011


Sounds kind of like the mothman prophecies score, such an awesome and creepy score.

On the dial-up "feeling", i remember being with friends in my entirely too hot room at night, on summer vacations with my parents away, sweating like crazy, eating left-over pizza and trying for hours to connect to the crappy free dial-up account they used to advertise in the tv, the one we used when the one we stole from some crappy cyber-cafe didn't work anymore, and getting a jolt of happiness when finally hearing the part of the noise that meant you now had a 97% chance of actually going through. Good (bad) times.
posted by palbo at 4:18 AM on July 28, 2011


"700% slower" is a nonsense phrase.
posted by DU at 4:37 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]



The slowed down version is beautiful. I can't believe it hasn't been edited. I fact, I don't.


I slowed the dial up link down 7x and I don't either.

Audio download link. YT up shortly.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:38 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]





I used to do tech support for an ISP. After a couple of months on the job, if a customer had two phone lines I'd have them hold the phone up to their modem so I could diagnose the problem. I could tell the difference in dial up speeds and the various 56k variants. I had more than one incredulous customer when I tried to do this.

Most of the time the fix was to stick an extra comma or two in their dialup string so that their modem would skip the 56k handshake and just drop to 33.6. We fixed a lot of "slow connections" that way.


The Modem Whisperer.
posted by odinsdream at 4:55 AM on July 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


With a heartbeat rate of 250 to 1200, this is how hummingbirds hear it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:59 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, will this be the "weird noise only old people understand", that gets used in countless commercials, once everyone who knows what a needle skipping across a record sounds like dies off?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:06 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


AOL just called, they want your soul back....
posted by samsara at 5:07 AM on July 28, 2011


"You've got mail!"
posted by crunchland at 5:11 AM on July 28, 2011


I once whistled a 300 baud carrier tone back down the line which put the receiving modem into CONNECT mode...
posted by benzo8 at 9:58 PM on July 28 [+] [!]
I used to be able to get CONNECT at both 300 and 1200bps by, variously, whistling and screeching into a handset. Freaked at least one person out with that, though they were actually pretty easy to do; I have to think that the range of potential frequencies that qualify as "valid 1200bps CONNECT" is pretty broad.
posted by nonspecialist at 5:16 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I slowed the dial up link down 7x and I don't either.
Ah, so that's how 42 baud modem sounds like!
Is the first sound, somewhere in the vicinity of 30 Hz, something a cat might approve of? They seem to like sounds that give me hives.
posted by hat_eater at 5:18 AM on July 28, 2011


From '85 to '96 I worked for a company whose product used 300 (later 2400) baud modems. We had regular dial up terminals and online terminals, depending which setup best fit the customer's circumstances and needs. The online terminals used a dedicated pair of phone company wires from the terminal back to the (usually) IBM Series I host computer. It took seemingly forever for the online terminals to get a download to its 10k of RAM because the host had to fit the download between polling the other terminals to make sure they were still online. You could tell a lot about the functionality of things by the sound of them communicating and we techs all had modified Radio Shack audio amplifiers we would clip on to the phone line to listen in. Sometimes you would get a service call for an online customer and would hear a radio station when you clipped on to the dedicated pair. Sometimes getting the phone company to believe the problem was on their end and fix it was difficult indeed. Our service department, where the PC boards were repaired and tested, had about 8 terminals. We left the shop audio detector on all the time and the constant chirping of the host polling the online terminals was kind of comforting. It sounded like a cross between electronic crickets and the viewscreen of TOS USS Enterprise. The 300 baud sound and the flashing 16 character alphanumeric displays of the robot like terminals freaked out my kids when they would go with me to the darkened building to check on things when I had the weekend duty. The company's marketing slogan for many years was "Advanced Technology with Proven Performance." I did a lot of growing up there and still dream about it.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:19 AM on July 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is definitely a pretty high-bitrate modem.

This is what a 300 baud modem coupler sounds like.
posted by Plutor at 5:34 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think we just discovered how Boards Of Canada compose their music.

My first thought was of Godspeed You Black Emperor, personally.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:40 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never mind the sound of the 300bps modem connecting, the rest of the swag spread about is giving me chills too; Max Headroom! 5.25" floppies! A genuine commodore monitor! 64'er magazine!

And then I see the guy's hands as he types, and I realise how old I am.
posted by nonspecialist at 5:40 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Depending on your industry, it's not at all unusual to be strolling through a data center and still hear that sound. My old shop was full of legacy hardware, and included some hoary old dial-up links to little banks and whatnot. They'd fire up and transmit the results of jobs running on the AS/400, jobs written by people who were long gone, and some of whom were dead. No one on my team ever knew what we were sending, or why it had to go, but there it went.

You'd be next to a rack struggling with a serial console, trying real hard not to drop a Solaris box into the boot PROM and there in the background: modem noise. Heard it so many times you could play every tone along in your head.

(settles back into rocking chair, puffs pipe meditatively)

Storm's a-comin'.
posted by jquinby at 5:59 AM on July 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


Wow, the slowed version really surprised me with how beautiful it sounded.

Instant ambient, "as it's known in the trade. " ;-) It's easy to do, and a lot of audio software does it ... you might enjoy trying it yourself!

Slightly more intermediate is scanning the results for "happy moments", building a scrapbook collection of those, and then composing your own. Used to take forever on 200MHz CPU's, now it's fun.
posted by Twang at 6:15 AM on July 28, 2011


This is no joke like the third slowed-down noise posted online in the last two months that I just finished using in an ambient record I'm writing.
posted by Jairus at 6:15 AM on July 28, 2011


Or should I say, an ambient record that the internet is writing and I am psychically channelling.
posted by Jairus at 6:16 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


im just going to leave this here
posted by bosun_bones at 7:00 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is ridiculous how comforting I find that modem noise. I'm glad it's being preserved for posterity!
posted by yasaman at 7:03 AM on July 28, 2011


Thank you louche mustachio! I like your version much better.

Also, now I wonder what a 300 baud connection sounds like when slowed down. Might have to see if I can still find my old phone line audio recording adapter...
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:12 AM on July 28, 2011


When we visited Crater Lake a couple of years ago, we bought a few things at the gift shop. Their credit card machine runs over a modem, and when they swiped the card and that noise - music! - started, we were both instantly awash in nostalgia. Neither of us had heard that sound in years. It was weirdly comforting. (The kid running the register had no such nostalgia, having come of age in a post-modem world.)
posted by rtha at 7:18 AM on July 28, 2011


In related news, experience has shown me that a recording of a 56k modem connection makes a weirdly comforting laptop start-up sound.
posted by Jairus at 7:20 AM on July 28, 2011


More music that makes me think of the modem sound:

The Smiths: London
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 7:39 AM on July 28, 2011


I can't believe it hasn't been edited.

I think he says that he did edit it. Also, PaulStretch doesn't just slow down files, it adds a lot of smushy smoothing stuff on top.
posted by carter at 7:42 AM on July 28, 2011


Here's the Metafilter thread for what launched this epically-slowed-down-with-PaulStretch meme: slowed down Justin Bieber.

louche mustachio: I slowed the dial up link down 7x and I don't either.

If you PaulStretch it, it'll basically sound just like what's in the link.
posted by zsazsa at 7:52 AM on July 28, 2011


I always thought that sound was made by the dolphins who worked at the AOL service line. Or else Mariah Carey.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:53 AM on July 28, 2011


I still remember the first thing I ever did that seemed like 'hacking' to me... digging around in the init string for our modem software to disable that Wail of Connection, so that I wouldn't have to muffle the PC tower with a pillow to avoid waking my parents as I dialed into different BBSs all night long. Ah, childhood memories..

(and the first programming I did was a AD&D character generator in BASIC)
posted by FatherDagon at 7:57 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, will this be the "weird noise only old people understand", that gets used in countless commercials

Some friends and I were zoning out to late-night TV the other day and there was an ad for one of those shoddy "protect yer computer!!" products, and it used the modem-connecting noise over and over seemingly as a generic "internet noise."

I think it's definitely on track to become one of those weird sounds, like Morse code (for anything related to radio communication) or a newsroom ticker (for anything related to 'breaking news'), that will live on as a sort of stylized, auditory shorthand for a concept long after it has stopped actually having any real-world relevance.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can you imagine reading Metafilter via 300 baud modems and .qwk packets? AskMe would take a day to download, all by itself!
posted by crunchland at 8:12 AM on July 28, 2011


700% slow down isn't slow enough to really hear what's going on. But I know anyway!
posted by yoHighness at 9:02 AM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still own a 300 baud mode, a Commodore 1650. If I can think of a way to dial in and view metafilter I will give it a shot!
posted by Ad hominem at 9:11 AM on July 28, 2011


Did that cell phone interference sound remind anyone else of the start to the Bonanza theme song?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:30 AM on July 28, 2011


Speaking of slowing things down, one of my earliest experiences with WFMU was just after the final episode of Friends. Kenny G's entire show was the soundtrack for the episode slowed down by a factor of three. I was stuck behind a computer at work, and I remember the whole afternoon passing sooo slowwwwly, as if an hour glass were filled with corn syrup instead of sand. Kind of like being stoned.

Sadly, old shows on WFMU seem to be available in RealAudio only, and I've gotten tired trying to track down codecs for that format.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2011


See Hear Also
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:29 AM on July 28, 2011


The modem connect sound reminds me of AOL and the like too, but primarily it reminds me of the endless rigmarole that was trying to play DOOM over the modem, and hearing it over and over again, with my pal from across the culdesac on the house line while we tried to get our computers to waltz.

"Ok, read it back to me, at0 &--"
"Wait, isn't yours a US Robotics?"
"Yeah, so?"
"Shit, let me start over, hold on. Do you have the right COM port?"
"COM2 dickhead, just give me the string"
"Fuck you!"
"Hey, fuck YOU!"
"Alright shut up, let's try this again, hang up and go into RECEIVE mode and I'll dial out in a sec."
"cool peace"
"bye"

*dialtone*
BEEP BOOP BEEP BEEP BEEP BOOP BOOP BEEP.
....
...0....
...o....
..eeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEE@#$(@*#$(@*)(^(#^(#$^....#$*U%*##*$%)(*$((***hello?**hello!???

DAMMIT MOM STOP ANSWERING THE PHONE!!!!

...

Yeah, I play on xbox live now.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:38 AM on July 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Obligatory Hackers throwback reference.

And here's Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen done completely on OLDE TYME , sans sampling/effects.

but seriously, where's the nostalgia for the TI-99? That tape sound was endless trying to load up shit like this seemed to go on forever.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:34 AM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


bleurgh, I screwed up a tag: Olde Tyme computational equipment.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:35 AM on July 28, 2011


I remember having to get a pager so my mum could page me if there was an emergency because I was on my computer all the time. I should have made her pay for the pager.
posted by deborah at 12:06 PM on July 28, 2011


Yeah, nostalgic blast indeed. One that I actually got earlier on this afternoon – having been without the internet at home for the past six months (being on the dole isn't really conducive to forking out for broadband), I finally got connected this afternoon. But before I did, I needed to check my email. At this point, the phone line was up and running, but not the broadband. So I used the ancient – I think I registered it in 1998 – dial-up account I've had for 13-some years. And despite the fact that I'm not even sure if the company, Portland, still exists, or maybe exists under a different name, the damned thing still works. I've even used it to dial in from overseas, as a kind of emergency measure, and there's been nary a peep of indignance about it.

Still got the username and password, as do a few friends who have used it in the same way as me; honestly, if anyone needs an emergency, worldwide-accessible dial-up internet connection, I'll happily give you details. It seems kind of pointless, until you really wish you had it.
posted by Len at 12:38 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trololololo, x800.
posted by darkstar at 12:43 PM on July 28, 2011


That sounds quite pretty, actually. I don't quite get the "I can never sleep again" vibe.
posted by jiawen at 1:18 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And despite the fact that I'm not even sure if the company, Portland, still exists, or maybe exists under a different name, the damned thing still works. I've even used it to dial in from overseas, as a kind of emergency measure, and there's been nary a peep of indignance about it.

No idea if they still do, but Time Warner Cable used to offer all of its customer, as part of the broadband package, access to a dial-up number for access ostensibly when traveling.
posted by odinsdream at 1:29 PM on July 28, 2011


That's the sound of war-dialing. Something today's script-kiddies have forgotten.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:33 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


odinsdream: No idea if they still do, but Time Warner Cable used to offer all of its customer, as part of the broadband package, access to a dial-up number for access ostensibly when traveling.

Yeah, see, this is the weird thing; Portland, as was (and possibly may still be*) was never actually my ISP. Rather they were a company I signed up with online just so I could have a reserve dial-up account in case my actual one went down and I desperately needed to get online; it's not like I was ever paying them a monthly fee, as I presume Time Warner Cable users were doing to be offered something similar as part of a broadband package. Basically they were just a random number that I knew I could get the internet on, without it costing me any more than the cost of the (local rate, in the UK) phone call, no questions asked.

*tried looking them up online and all I could get was info on how to sign up for a dial-up connection in Portland, Oregon. Which makes me think: mathowie, cortex and pb – call me when your internet goes down! I have just the solution!
posted by Len at 1:40 PM on July 28, 2011


I've always thought of it as a computer's love song.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:20 PM on July 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


My hair is standing on end as I listen to the slow version, waiting for a facehugger to leap out from under my desk and attack me.
posted by chuq at 3:01 PM on July 28, 2011


Yeah, I've just been playing some Portal 2 and that slowed down version is sounding oddly familiar.
posted by ZsigE at 4:52 PM on July 28, 2011


brbrllrlrlrlllrlrllr
BRRLLRLRLRLLRLLRLRLRLRLR
BIIIRIRIIIIRIIIRbeeyop
di dong DING
rbrlrlrlbbslsl
SSSSSSHHHHH

pornpornpornpornporn
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:28 PM on July 28, 2011


Yeah, see, this is the weird thing; Portland, as was (and possibly may still be*) was never actually my ISP.

As resilient as some of the older server hardware and modem banks can be, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was a case of Ye Olde Bricked-Up Server Closet.
posted by odinsdream at 5:51 PM on July 28, 2011


crunchland wrote: Wow. 20 years ago, you couldn't have told me people would be even remotely nostalgic about the dial-up sound. In another 20, will you remember fondly the cell phone feedback noise

That particular sample is terrible. It has none of the nuance that an incoming call has, and lacks the insistent rhythm of an ongoing data session.
posted by wierdo at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2011


Yeah, I'd peg that as a 28.8 tone - it's definitely not the 14.4 so dear to my heart, or the later 56 that I could never love near as much. I can't be the only person who, as soon as that finished, madly looked for the 'successful connection' icon in the status bar*?

*Although, like all good 90s teenage nerds, my first dialup was via a DOS terminal program, although the name of which has long since passed out of long-term storage.

posted by coriolisdave at 9:32 PM on July 28, 2011


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