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300 baud of awesome in a wooden box
June 1, 2009 11:47 AM   Subscribe

This is what 300 baud looks like online today.
posted by loquacious (111 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
The video is listed as only 8 minutes long, but it actually takes 8 days, 3 hours, and 36 minutes to watch.
posted by not_on_display at 11:50 AM on June 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


Don't laugh. Many newspaper reporters (/me waves at the Seattle Times and the now-dead Seattle P-I) were using TRS-80 Model 100 "laptops" running Microsoft Word 1.0 with acoustic modems as late as 2000.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:51 AM on June 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


The modem tone! I'm torn between fond nostalgia and years of residual frustration.
posted by HopperFan at 11:52 AM on June 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Heh. Were I to have children and were I to decide to restrict his or her or their Internet access, that's how I would do it.

There it is, kid. Wait for it.
posted by notyou at 11:52 AM on June 1, 2009 [38 favorites]


Ha. Delayed gratification is good for you, now be quiet and watch the bar move.
posted by zach4000 at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2009


Heh. Were I to have children and were I to decide to restrict his or her or their Internet access, that's how I would do it.


This is totally brilliant. Or you could just restrict the kid to lynx. What's the worst they'd find? Literotica? Slashfic? At least they'd be reading.
posted by loquacious at 11:56 AM on June 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


Meh. If he whistled his login credentials, that would have been impressive.
posted by GuyZero at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


I posted this as a comment in another thread the other day.
posted by delmoi at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2009


HopperFan: "The modem tone! I'm torn between fond nostalgia and years of residual frustration."

I can still remember how electrified I felt hearing myself get connected to AOL for the first time.

Had I known at the time how it heralded the swiftly-approaching end of the entire pre-Internet world that I grew up in, I might have bowed my head.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roy from IT Crowd, when the router breaks and they have to use dial-up: "Oh, do you remember the Internet at this speed? Up all night and you'd see eight women."
posted by chillmost at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


What's great is for whatever reason YouTube and I are suddenly having a communication failure. So, the video is just taking forever to load and I'm thinking..wait.. did YouTube introduce simulated baud rates? Jawsome! Oh well.

I feel kinda bad that my kid will not be able to identify baud rates by negotiating sounds. Maybe he'll have to use dialup! Right!
posted by cavalier at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2009


I hope there's another Metafilter post in a decade or so about the failed attempts of my supposedly 14 MB/s broadband connection to download a YouTube video without it buffering every two seconds. Ah, the irony.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 12:10 PM on June 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ahhhh... memories.

Commodore 64, 300 baud modem, Q-Link, GEnie, Compuserve, NVN (don't look for it), bulletin boards. And this was long after Commodores were dead. I just couldn't afford anything else.

(Got the Commodore, monitor, floppy drive, printer, and some software for $50 at Salvation Army.)
posted by The Deej at 12:13 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not long ago there was a strange boinging noise at work. I turned to a coworker and said, "Whoa. That sounded like a Courier 56k establishing a connection. Remember? AT&F, right?"

They gave me a blank look that made me feel very sad and more than a little old.

It wasn't like this stuff was all that long ago, was it?
posted by quin at 12:14 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Floppy drive? Luxury. Cassette tapes were the real old school.
posted by smackfu at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


My first modem was a 2400 baud external that came with an ancient 386 my parents had bought for 3000 (that's three thousand) dollars in 1994. To understand just how badly they had gotten ripped off by whoever sold them that piece of shit, he also sold them a copy of Doom II to play on it, and when he set it the computer up at the house, somehow installed everything for windows 3.1 except the win.exe file to the hard drive. in order to convince my parents that the computer functioned, he somehow ran win.exe off the floppy and left, never to be heard from again. after the first time I shut the comptuer down, we had no idea why we couldn't get windows running again. calls to everybody I knew who had a computer resulted in me fruitlessly typing "win" at the command prompt with no result. Doom II could only run with the screen shrunk down to its smallest setting, which was slightly larger, literally, than a postage stamp on my monitor. The box had no sound card, and only 4 megs of RAM. Check here to discover that the minimum requirements were 8 megs. It cost my father 300 dollars to go buy an 8 meg RAM upgrade, just so I could play the only game he had bought me for the computer. (fun note! if you try to play the game Rise Of The Triad on a 386 with the screen shrunk down, the lowest screen size will reveal a helpful piece of advice from the developers to "Buy a 486! :)" Not many people know that!)

anyway, 2400 baud modem, at a time when everyone had a 14.4. I thought I was living in the stone age. I should have considered myself lucky.
posted by shmegegge at 12:21 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't laugh. Many newspaper reporters (/me waves at the Seattle Times and the now-dead Seattle P-I) were using TRS-80 Model 100 "laptops" running Microsoft Word 1.0 with acoustic modems as late as 2000.

I see no issue with that. Those computers were perfectly usable tools to quickly write and send over an article, say, over a pay phone. The battery lasted at least 6 times that of my 2009 Macbook and you could replace them with new batteries you bought at the convenience store. The communication may have been slow but it doesn't take long to transmit a text file at 300 baud. Certainly easier than finding a wifi hotspot or having an EVDO or 3G dongle to deal with, especially in remote locations. I'd go as far to say those computers were just as good, maybe even better! than current laptops for the job they were intended for.
posted by neustile at 12:22 PM on June 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


Don't laugh. Many newspaper reporters (/me waves at the Seattle Times and the now-dead Seattle P-I) were using TRS-80 Model 100 "laptops" running Microsoft Word 1.0 with acoustic modems as late as 2000.

They're still using these modems in Hollywood.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2009


ancient 386 my parents had bought for 3000 (that's three thousand) dollars in 1994

Let me just pick my eyeballs up off the floor.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Floppy drive? Luxury. Cassette tapes were the real old school.

Believe me, it felt luxurious! My prior computer was a Timex/Sinclair 1000 with a regular Panasonic casette recorder.
posted by The Deej at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2009


Back when we lived in Texas, I remember when we had a 300 baud modem hooked up to a Commodore 64. My dad and I used it to log into Prodigy and Knight-Ridder's local news access service. Good times.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:32 PM on June 1, 2009


Doom II could only run with the screen shrunk down to its smallest setting

I bet you had a 386 SX. Hahaha SX = sucks. It was probably a Packard Bell, too, wasn't it?
posted by fusinski at 12:35 PM on June 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


When I was young, all I had was a Clinique computer. And, I liked it.
posted by found missing at 12:38 PM on June 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Reminds me to be thankful for broadband. No more floppies, no more weird noises, no more glacial connections.
posted by Cranberry at 12:38 PM on June 1, 2009


Forgot to mention no more $19.95 per month for dial up. Now I get to pay Comcast quite a bit more
posted by Cranberry at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


smackfu: "Cassette tapes were the real old school."

Arriviste.

When I was in junior high school, the computers performed storage by punching holes in paper tape.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2009


It was probably a Packard Bell, too, wasn't it?

ha, not quite. It was a compaq. my parents thought it would be good because it sounded like a name they had heard of.
posted by shmegegge at 12:42 PM on June 1, 2009


It was probably a Packard Bell, too, wasn't it?

I just felt a sudden, intense surge of hatred and anger. I need to break something.
posted by stavrogin at 12:44 PM on June 1, 2009 [13 favorites]


Floppy drive? Luxury. Cassette tapes were the real old school.

Heh. When I was in junior high, I saved my first, crude, FORTRAN programs on long thin rolls of punch paper tape via the chattery little box on the side of the teletype terminal.
posted by aught at 12:45 PM on June 1, 2009


Apparently Joe Beese and I are about the same age.
posted by aught at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2009


I think I still have this one modem for the Apple ][e somewhere. It is either 110 or 300 baud. It's a ghastly hybrid, not entirely internal nor external. Parts had to be plugged into the board. Yet there was an acoustic coupler on it, as well. It was big and ungainly and looked more invented than manufactured.

Sometimes I miss that deeet-deeet-deeet-DEEEE-HEEor-heeor-heeor-krwxt-krwxt-krwxt of the 56k.
posted by adipocere at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


My parents had a computer in the house for as long as I can remember (I was born in 1981, so picture a Commodore 64 with a fastload cartridge). At some point they bought a blazing fast 16 mhz 386SX with 1 megabyte of RAM for like $3000 at a computer show at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. Eventually we added a second hdd (420 mb for something like $400) and put in a full 8 meg of RAM. Remember RAM slots back then, where you had to use a screwdriver to hold open the clips and get the stick out?

It came with a Hayes 2400 baud modem which I used on Prodigy, AOL, and this weird graphical-based BBS called The INN or something. The modem had been set to the same IRQ as the mouse, but it never really mattered because both transmitted data so slowly. When I finally upgraded it to a 28.8 modem I figured out there was an IRQ conflict.

I remember when we first got a Pentium machine. That was the last time I can remember thinking that a computer was insanely faster than the one it replaced. After that the only upgrade that blew my mind was when I put a GeForce2 GTS with DDR memory into a PC that I used mainly for gaming. I spent like $500 on that card... eesh.
posted by ben242 at 12:50 PM on June 1, 2009


Did anybody else catch that he videotaped dialing into a Shiva modem, and then videotaped his username and password, too?

Awesome!
posted by Chuffy at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


My first modem was a 2400 baud external that came with an ancient 386 my parents had bought for 3000 (that's three thousand) dollars in 1994.

My first computer was an Acer desktop with a Pentium 75 that I got for just $800 in August of 1995, mostly with money that I had earned over the summer, but also some help from my dad (the monitor was a couple hundred more. For a 14 inch CRT. Heh). At the time the top of the line would have been a Pentium 120. I actually remember telling my mom that a 486 would just be horrible because we had been looking at those machines as a possibility at some point.
posted by delmoi at 12:54 PM on June 1, 2009


Dialing in to Sierra's BBS for help on King's Quest III or Ultima...good times.
posted by Chuffy at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used punch cards for my first 3 years of college - towards the end they let us save the source code up on the mainframe, and your card deck would consist of edit commands, then compile, load and go !
posted by rfs at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2009


That first modem 56K synch sound as one arrived at a new city and tried a new connection were like oxygen to me in the 90's. Back online and back to life!

I remember FORTRAN on punched cards in a summer math class I took in high school. Also the text-terminal Star Trek game. Good times. Good times.
posted by Michael Roberts at 12:58 PM on June 1, 2009


Sometimes I miss that deeet-deeet-deeet-DEEEE-HEEor-heeor-heeor-krwxt-krwxt-krwxt

[bubbrubb]
The modems go DEEET DEEET DEEET DEEEE HEEOR HEEOR HEEOR HEEOR KRWXT KWRXT
[bubbrubb]
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:00 PM on June 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


stavrogin : I need to break something.

Remember the software based Win-Modems that Packard Bell used? When I did dial-up support, those were my very-most hated things. Combine that with Windows 3.1 and the knowledge level of many users back then, and you have a poisonous combination more than capable of rendering even an eager young tech to abject misery and tears.
posted by quin at 1:01 PM on June 1, 2009


I remember using my TRS-80 CoCo with a 300 baud modem to download this Ferrari picture from a local BBS. I printed it out on my 80 column Epson dot matrix printer and hung it up on my wall.

It felt like a major accomplishment, and I was probably one out of a handful of kids in my school who had the means to do something like that. I didn't think it could ever get any better.

In hindsight, getting laid probably would have been better.
posted by bondcliff at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2009 [16 favorites]


Those computers were perfectly usable tools to quickly write and send over an article, say, over a pay phone. ... I'd go as far to say those computers were just as good, maybe even better! than current laptops for the job they were intended for.

Yeah. The "monitor" was four lines of readable text, about 50 characters across.

Newspapers' repeated focus on "good enough" is precisely why they're folding left and right.

Forget the laptops. If they had bought desktop PCs for reporters and editors in the late 90s, maybe they all wouldn't have completely missed the Internet. And there'd be no need for something called the Drudge Report.

But no, they had to insist on their 30 percent profit margins while most newsrooms muddled through with a network of dumb terminals purchased in the late 70s (/me waves hi to the ATEX machines and their custom 4-inch thick keyboards) and the token Mac Proforma for whiz-bang graphics.

You guys think I'm kidding or overstating it? Holy shit, I'm not. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


My mother still uses her Apple ][e, with a CP/M add on card.
Man I'm sick of fixing that thing.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:21 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't laugh. Many newspaper reporters (/me waves at the Seattle Times and the now-dead Seattle P-I) were using TRS-80 Model 100 "laptops" running Microsoft Word 1.0 with acoustic modems as late as 2000.

If memory serves, in 2000 (when I was quite broke and living in a very expensive city) I had a 486 running a vintage Telix program in DOS over dialup, and it was noticeably faster than any of my friends' computers simply because it was so lowbrow: it reduced everything to white text on a black screen. While people with state-of-the-art machines were waiting for animated gifs to download, Telix would just display the word

[IMAGE]

and load what I came to read.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2009


i would love it if modems of this day came in such nice cases. very entertaining geekery going on here. i applaud phreakmonkey for his video.
posted by the aloha at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2009


MetaFilter: In hindsight, getting laid probably would have been better
posted by Joe Beese at 1:31 PM on June 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


i would love it if modems of this day came in such nice cases.

Full circle! (It ended up as a Dell Studio Hybrid with a bamboo sleeve.)
posted by smackfu at 1:37 PM on June 1, 2009


muddled through with a network of dumb terminals purchased

it takes activation energy -- $$$$ -- to break a production flow out of a known path and get into a new and allegedly more efficient/effective one.

Up until Windows NT 4 PCs lacked the stability to serve as mission-critical workhorses.

The real game-changer wasn't Drudge but MovableType, IMO.

Things were moving fast 1995-2000.
posted by @troy at 1:39 PM on June 1, 2009


300 baud modem! We would have KILLED for such broadband.

When I was a kid, we had to hand-chisel each bit in granite, then run 3,000 miles through the snow to Boston to deliver each individually to a wizened old crone who charged us $25 per stone. And we were HAPPY to have it.

Cause there was no cable TV back then.
posted by msalt at 1:39 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


He didn't show the AOL punchcards he found in the modem case.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:45 PM on June 1, 2009


That dude better have changed his passwords after this demo.
posted by chundo at 1:48 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


it takes activation energy -- $$$$ -- to break a production flow out of a known path and get into a new and allegedly more efficient/effective one. Up until Windows NT 4 PCs lacked the stability to serve as mission-critical workhorses.

I don't disagree with you here ... but you're missing the bigger picture. Workplace productivity exploded between the mid-80s and the end of the century. But newspapers refused to plow profits into modernization efforts and missed out on ... well, everything. The reinvention of media. Whoosh, right over their heads.

It would be as if, prior to getting left behind on the development of the automobile, buggy whip manufacturers had also failed to realize the usefulness of the electric light.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:49 PM on June 1, 2009


Speaking of wood boxes and AOL... at one point they were actually sending trial copies in wooden CD cases.
posted by smackfu at 1:52 PM on June 1, 2009


But newspapers refused to plow profits into modernization efforts and missed out on ... well, everything

Newspapers are still making the lions' share of money in the information delivery market AFAICT.

Their present business problems stem from overleveraged, stupid parent companies, the typical acquisition overshoot common in relatively unregulated free market capitalism.

Well, that and the overall economy cratering worse than any other recession in living memory.

The internet itself is largely blogging about blogging. My main go-to sites are TBogg, ThePoorMan, SadlyNo!, Instapundit, Alicub, where I can laugh at the latest idiot conservative outrage du juor; I suspect the situation is symmetrical across the aisle, dunno.
posted by @troy at 2:03 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Newspapers are still making the lions' share of money in the information delivery market AFAICT.


well, hang on a second. what we're talking about is that the newspapers had to play pretty quick catchup, electronically, because they had been so resolutely against modernization in content delivery. by now they all have blog sections themselves, but have come to the game so late that people still rely on blogs for up-to-date information, even though they still read newspapers. that they are suffering because of the economy right now is true, but they'd been suffering long before the current crisis, and have fared far worse than many (though not all) industries because of the long-standing disdain modern technologically savvy readers have for them as dinosaurs. as many of us start to face personal finance crunches, we start also to wonder how much we really want to pay for paper news when we get blogs for free. no one's saying that newspapers are completely dead. but let's not forget that they're in pretty bad shape, and not just because of the economy.
posted by shmegegge at 2:08 PM on June 1, 2009


Man, that modem makes Wikipedia pretty dramatic.
posted by ALongDecember at 2:18 PM on June 1, 2009


> The modem tone! I'm torn between fond nostalgia and years of residual frustration.

My roommate's ring tone is a modem handshake. As someone who spent a good portion of their adolescence on BBSs, it's actually grown pretty irritating once the nostalgia passed.
posted by cj_ at 2:30 PM on June 1, 2009


Imagine if by some temporal quirk the original owner of that modem had managed to dial into Wikipedia?
posted by Rock Steady at 2:37 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's stuff like this that really brings home the pace of change of technology. Despite having watched it happen, it is still kinda inconceivable that in something like 15 years we've gone from baud to mb/s, dot matrix to photo-like-quality, bbs to bittorrent...

It's curiously easy to become accustomed to this rate of change; this video and thread, and the resulting nostalgia has resurrected the wonder I used to feel about the progress of technology. These day anything less than constant, ubiquitous improvement would seem like going backwards.

It's at times like this I feel like the singulatarians may have a point.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:38 PM on June 1, 2009


> Ahhhh... memories. Commodore 64, 300 baud modem, Q-Link, GEnie, Compuserve, NVN (don't look for it), bulletin boards. And this was long after Commodores were dead. I just couldn't afford anything else.

Oh man, I was right there with you. I was seriously the only person with a 40 column display. I ended up writing my own client that faked 80 columns by squashing 2 characters into each bitmap, making it barely readable but still feel more grown-up. When I finally got a 1200bps modem, I had to learn 6502 assembly to get the modem to actually run at that speed due to some limitations with the UART chip it used for timing. It's no accident I ended up a programmer, but at the time I just wanted to get on the local BBS's.

The only guy worse off than me was the kid with the ][e without the lower-case extension.
posted by cj_ at 2:38 PM on June 1, 2009


smackfu, choice! i had never seen that before.
posted by the aloha at 2:54 PM on June 1, 2009


The first tech job I had had an APL terminal in the library, complete with acoustic coupler modem. They used it to run programs for developing control algorithms and such. Other than that, it sat unused since there were no other computers to call (it was 1981).
posted by tommasz at 2:58 PM on June 1, 2009


The first tech job I had had an APL terminal in the library, complete with acoustic coupler modem.

I wrote APL code over an acoustic coupler modem from a VT52. Thank you for reminding me how much that sucked. (Imagine this post at two letters, or symbols, per second)
posted by Ella Fynoe at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2009


This is totally brilliant. Or you could just restrict the kid to lynx. What's the worst they'd find? Literotica? Slashfic? At least they'd be reading.

ASCII porn of course.
posted by benzenedream at 3:23 PM on June 1, 2009


[Lou Reed]
And the colored girls sing deet da deet da deeet deeet DEEEE HEEOR HEEOR HEEOR HEEOR KRWXT KWRXT
[/Lou Reed]
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:54 PM on June 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


APL is one of my favorite acronyms. It stands for "A Programming Language". Doesn't get more descriptive than that.
posted by scalefree at 4:05 PM on June 1, 2009


I was kinda hoping he would dial up Protovision.
posted by Muddler at 4:10 PM on June 1, 2009


Cassette tapes were the real old school.

You young turks and your fancy tech.

In *MY* day we had 8 switches and a load momentary on/off toggle.

And we liked it because it was better than the paperclips to the logic lines.

(Added bonus - the F I got in the advanced chip design class. She wanted us to design a 64 bit ROM. She was expecting TTL gates. I channeled the old 'diodes as light bright peg' design instead. She also claimed "Dynamic Rams (DRAM) is not used in industry" )
posted by rough ashlar at 4:13 PM on June 1, 2009


Or you could just restrict the kid to lynx. What's the worst they'd find? Literotica? Slashfic? At least they'd be reading.

I don't understand. It's perfectly possible to download image files on a text terminal and a slow-ass modem. It just might take 15 minutes for one crappy resolution image. And might totally PISS YOU OFF if the image is not what you were expecting and you wasted all that time. Or, uh, so I would guess.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on June 1, 2009


the computers performed storage by punching holes in paper tape.

You can still find machine tools that use punched hole tape. Cept they've upgraded to mylar to punch holes in.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:16 PM on June 1, 2009


sz boobs.jpg -b

....

...

time passes

....

what the fuck? 20 goddamn minutes for a couple weird birds?
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And here's an example of a commerical diode rom
http://www.old-computers.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=2491
posted by rough ashlar at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2009


Hey, kids! I'm a computer!
posted by xorry at 4:23 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


help computer.
posted by the aloha at 4:36 PM on June 1, 2009


Stop all the downloadin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:51 PM on June 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wish my DSL modem came in a wooden box.
posted by Michael Leung at 4:56 PM on June 1, 2009


Every time I moved house I was glad of my thinkpad and its built-in modem to tide me over the misery that is broadbandlessness. But now with 3g modems I think it can finally be retired, too. This thread makes me feel old.

But newspapers refused to plow profits into modernization efforts and missed out on ... well, everything. The reinvention of media. Whoosh, right over their heads.

This isn't really the whole picture. Newspapers were huge fans of modernisation, absolutely huge. The move from hot metal to computer typesetting saved them millions; the move to DTP saved them millions more. Email wasn't that great, but at least you could get rid of copytakers. FTP comes along, and it's tata to expensive leased lines. Then digital photography -- whoo, you can get rid of the darkroom, the film processing, the picture librarians, lots of savings. Computer to Plate is next, that lets you get rid of Output and Filmmaking, they were expensive, and automated presses let you go from mailroom staffs of 60 to six.

"New technology" is, and always has been, a golden ticket in newspaper management. A generation of management has risen to the top with the knowledge that every eight or ten years comes a breakthrough that means you can slash costs and get profits soaring. This is where these 30% numbers come from -- from papers still earning like they did in the hideously expensive hot metal days, but with staffs one third the size -- and with the big print unions defanged.

Sure enough, the next thing came along. It was the internet. They rushed to embrace it like they did everything else, then it turned out not to make savings or cost efficiencies but instead to be a massive money sink, one that fundamentally undermines the business model and necessitates a good few years of belt-tightening and vastly reduced income to survive.

Except they can't and won't accept that. They've got used to huge profits, and the market has come to expect them, and they've taken out ludicrous loans based on gravity not applying. So they do the only thing they know -- and keep cutting. Now they're cutting reporters and journalists, so the quality of their product suffers just when their quality is the only thing they have left to offer. Then they cut the budgets for operations -- so staff are left with Macs running OS 9 and schoolgirls on minimum wage cut-and-paste copy from Quark into MovableType.

Listen out: you'll still hear newspaper execs talk about the "benefits of new technology". Literally translated, all they mean is "fewer staff, higher profits". It wasn't that they missed the internet, it's that they tried to make it into something would let them cut staff, because that's all new technology ever has been to them. All they've got is a hammer, and the internet isn't a nail, it's a bomb. They hit it hard all the same.
posted by fightorflight at 5:02 PM on June 1, 2009 [25 favorites]


The death of newspapers has nothing to do with how editorial and newsgathering is run and everything to do with selling ads. The internet killed newspaper classifieds. The internet is killing many forms of offline advertising. Google doesn't sell billions of dollars worth of internet searches - they sell a billion dollars worth of ads. And nothing you do to the newsroom can undo the fundamental shift in the economics of ads away from newspapers.
posted by GuyZero at 5:07 PM on June 1, 2009


WARD CHRISTENSEN HAS A POSSE. 300 BAUD, S-100 BUS. [prev]
posted by dhartung at 5:13 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


And nothing you do to the newsroom can undo the fundamental shift in the economics of ads away from newspapers

This, too, isn't really the whole picture. The internet is killing advertising -- there's a fairly good case that it's killing the whole thing, not just offline. But it hasn't killed it yet, and newspapers do still have offline monopolies that are worth something. Sure many papers are at death's door, and many -- especially in the US -- are ludicrously bloated and overstaffed. But there are hundreds that could turn smallish profits and still put out a good product.

What's killing them is a combination of the internet's impact on advertising and the insistence that they still return the massive 20%+ profits they made in the gravy days of the 1990s (in some cases to service the debt they built up then). Without the latter, there's still a business there. Not forever, but certainly not one collapsing at the breakneck speed we see today.

Anyway, I'm out of baudy anecdotes to justify posting, so I'll stop derailing.
posted by fightorflight at 5:17 PM on June 1, 2009


The first computer I ever got to use ran Windows 98. The only pre-anything days I remember are pre-Win NT and pre-Google. I have no idea what the fuck this is or what any of you are talking about.......

I'll get off your respective lawns now. Sorry about the gnomes.
posted by shoebox at 5:44 PM on June 1, 2009


My father worked with modems in the late 60s; as a result I still put secondary stress on the dem (and am mocked for it).
posted by gubo at 6:07 PM on June 1, 2009


you could queue up some sweet MIDIs overnight.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:15 PM on June 1, 2009


I don't get the $3000 post. I built my first computer in '93 for less than 100 bucks.
386 motherboard w/ 4 megs: 15 bucks, 14.4 external: 30 bucks, 14in VGA $50. Bootlegged Windows 3.1: priceless
posted by shockingbluamp at 6:33 PM on June 1, 2009


an ancient 386 my parents had bought for 3000 (that's three thousand) dollars in 1994

That either is indeed a collosal ripoff (meaning your parents had more money than sense), or you're remembering your dates wrong. My very first IT job was as an afternoon/evening network admin assistant for a local engineering firm, and I remember the day that the Compaq 386 showed up. DIR listings on that thing just flew by. I just checked my paycheck history* and that was in 1988.

In that video, it was nice to see the text coming at 300 baud, which was a nice comfortable rate that you could easy read as it came in. Once 1200 baud came along it was faster than you could read, then they started adding ASCII painting (e.g. boxes), and only a couple years later we were all figuring out how to get SLIP and TCP stacks to work ...

* To this day, I maintain my checking account in Lotus 1-2-3. I'm using the exact same cracked copy that I got from a friend in the dorms 22 years ago. Thank you DOS, OS/2, Windows 95 and now DOSBOX on Linux for your continued DOS support!

/FSenterR/QY
posted by intermod at 6:36 PM on June 1, 2009


I remember when BBSs were blue screens with white text.


HEY.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:37 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I never owned one, but I knew people who had computers with the phone terminal thing, where you literally took your phone handset off the cradle and stuck it into the modem. It seemed like magic.

I was trying to remember the last time I used a modem, and then it came back to me. About 3 years ago, I had to actually FAX something somewhere, and I was at home, of course, without a fax machine. I was stumped for a couple minutes until I remembered that they were called FAX/Modems for a reason -- I scanned the document on my desktop scanner, yanked the phone cord out of the back of the phone, plugged it into that useless hole on my Powerbook, and... (with some small amount of shirt-rending and gnashing-of-teeth) sent a fax. It was kinda weird.

There was a time, in my 28k days that I could sing the Modemsong pretty well (AOL BUSY SINGAL FUCK YUO!), but it's something I pay good money every month just to never hear again. And on Mac OS7, the software was labyrinthian. Several different extensions that you had to drill down to and enter info in, which would often conflict with one another.

It is crazy how far we've come -- I just downloaded a 79 MB file in about a minute and a half, and just the other day I was thinking about going for that Roadrunner TURBO because the internet is getting so heavy.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:37 PM on June 1, 2009


About 3 years ago, I had to actually FAX something somewhere, and I was at home, of course, without a fax machine. I was stumped for a couple minutes until I remembered that they were called FAX/Modems for a reason

Oh wow. I didn't even think of that the last time I was running all over trying to find a fax machine.
posted by smackfu at 6:50 PM on June 1, 2009


My first modem was a 2400 baud external that came with an ancient 386 my parents had bought for 3000 (that's three thousand) dollars in 1994.
Just to drive home the full meaning of this statement, in 1994 my dad was ripped off by a local computer shop to the tune of $2500 for a 486DX, around the time the first 60 MHz Pentiums appeared on the market.

Later the guy who owned the place was tied up in the shop and the place was set on fire. Seriously. (My dad had nothing to do with it AFAIK.)
posted by brassafrax at 6:56 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are a bunch of websites (including ones from years ago) where you can fax a scanned in document. No fax/modem needed. Unless you mean you didn't have broadband a couple years ago in which case, my condolences.

I haven't used a dial-up modem since 1992. Ugh.
posted by Justinian at 6:56 PM on June 1, 2009


Connecting my USR Sportster to West coast warez boards via PBXes I'd scored on IRC, I remember what a pain it was to get the dialing sequences right, with appropriate pauses for the various PBX prompts... and then, Hallelujah, to hear that BONG-eee-BONG-eee-ssssssssssss sound as the modems shook hands and started hurling bits at one another, to watch those Day-Glo ANSI logon graphics starting to paint my terminal window... man, it felt like I was getting away with something incredibly wild and transgressive.

In hindsight, getting laid would probably have been better.
posted by killdevil at 8:12 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't understand. It's perfectly possible to download image files on a text terminal and a slow-ass modem. It just might take 15 minutes for one crappy resolution image. And might totally PISS YOU OFF if the image is not what you were expecting and you wasted all that time. Or, uh, so I would guess.

Circa 1995, my college dormmate barged into my room and shoved an 8 1/2 x 11 color printout of some truly extreme porn in my face. I never did figure out if he did it to be outrageous (I'm female) or because he was excited that he could get these things on Usenet.
posted by halonine at 8:27 PM on June 1, 2009


I'm glad I stayed nerdy back then instead of getting laid. The things I learned then put me in a much better position to get laid NOW, and I tend to enjoy things more now than then.
posted by flaterik at 8:45 PM on June 1, 2009


I also remember buying chunks of RAM in the '90s... it was like trading futures!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:56 PM on June 1, 2009


I must say I don't miss the days where everything was an add-on card. My dad still has boxes stored away with ISA serial cards, and 8-bit Soundblasters, and 10-base-2 network cards, because "they're still good". I did convince him to throw away the MFM controller card and drives, mainly because full-height 10MB disks are really heavy.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 PM on June 1, 2009


No nostalgia for ANSI BBS graphics? I remember being floored that my //e (or something or a similiar vintage) could dial into something that could show me color graphics with a dancing cursor. At first I thought the sysop was hitting backspace on me. When youre 9, everything is a conspiracy. Colorized tradewars or galaxywars or whatever the color spinoff was called was really intense. Colorized ascii art was even more intense. Then came the internet with its slow webpages and non dancing cursors. I guess there's always the blink tag.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:20 PM on June 1, 2009


I still miss control characters mattering. Believe me, I was a much, much better typist when I couldn't make a mistake or backspace showed up as ^H. My accuracy has gone way down as anyone who reads my Metafilter comments knows.

Plus you could make all kinds of kooky passwords. I would always put backspaces and stuff in there just to screw with people.
posted by Justinian at 10:27 PM on June 1, 2009


Slap an Apple logo on it and you'll sell a million.
posted by mazola at 11:18 PM on June 1, 2009


Hah. I was messing around with a microcontroller recently— you know, one chip, fingernail sized, costs about as much as a cup of coffee, has many times the speed and memory of my first computer— whose boot ROM accepts firmware downloads using XMODEM-CRC. (And I wonder what I would be able to remember instead if I didn't apparently have brain cells dedicated to keeping track of the difference between XMODEM (Ward Christiansen), XMODEM-CRC, XMODEM-1k, YMODEM, ZMODEM…)
posted by hattifattener at 11:43 PM on June 1, 2009


Thanks for this; the tones and the slow text scroll are truly intense visceral nostalgia.

notyou, restrict teenagers to slow drips of text characters sent by strangers in a secret hangout that's open all night, and make them learn programming and elementary electronics to be able to access those slow drips. Would you be surprised to know they'll get up to equal mischief?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:36 AM on June 2, 2009


Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home... computer and reading the day's newspaper. Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem...
posted by Happy Dave at 2:47 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Happy Dave, that's the best thing I've seen today. To be fair, the only other thing I've seen today is a smear of cat poop down the main hall, but still!
posted by tzikeh at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2009


Oh thank you for all the comments, which lead to me googling for mp3's of modem handshakes... It put a big grin on my face to hear it again, and remember the distinctive beeps, bongs, and the glorious white-noise shower of bits. I LOVED being able to "hear" data. Not that I could decipher it by ear, but I still loved hearing it. I always kept the modem speaker on, just at a very low volume. Now we just have silent magic.

I used to do dial-up internet support, and hearing all of the modem sounds was one of my favorite things - It made troubleshooting so damned easy, provided someone had a second line. I have perfect pitch, and this is the only time that it was helpful in the tech world - I could actually hear if the handshake frequencies were a bit off. I really wish I had recordings of how crazy some of the modems sounded after a bad storm went through the area.

Before that, I was running 300 baud when everyone else was running 1200 on the BBS days, and then I upgraded to 1200 when everyone else had 9600, then upgraded to 2400 when everyone else had 14.4 - I think someone finally gave me a 9600 baud modem halfway out of pity, but also so I wouldn't be taking so much damned time on the local boards.

I really do appreciate how easy this has all become. Nowadays, we just plug stuff in and it works - No arcane BBS lists shared between friends, no more screwing with 8 bit vs 7 bit or any of the other crazy settings I don't remember anymore. No more "Thank god, they have Z-modem, I actually have a chance of downloading this." No more screwing with my friends part-time BBS by whistling tones at his budget modem. I miss it a bit, because I loved the challenge, and I loved being able to get so low level.
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:06 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


bps, not baud... whoops
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:29 AM on June 2, 2009


Hmm. My old Apple II - 4K of memory, integer basic in ROM- sold for $1500. Memory upgrade.... wow. To bring that beast up to a whopping 48K (yes, that's KAY, not EMM) was another THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS. And screens? A TV (tuned to channel 3) was the only thing I could use, with a 40 column text display. White on black. When I scored a 9 inch industrial monitor from a machine tool control and modified the input.... but I seem to see dark shifting shapes flitting about outside.... hey, OFF MY LAWN.
posted by drhydro at 8:04 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I went from 300 baud to 1200 baud on C64, I couldn't believe how smooth Tradewars 2002 played.

I guess that was the BBS version of 60FPS gaming...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:05 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


yes. I was actually a bit annoyed when the CPS jumped so high that ansimation looked like crap and I had to download text files instead of read them as they typed.

Very similar to when I used to hit the "turbo" button to slow down my PC when I did a directory listing or typed a file.



jeez, as if I haven't been feeling old enough lately.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:52 AM on June 2, 2009


My friend gave me a US Robotics 9600 external modem in highschool (around the time 56k was quite prominent and cable was slowly creeping around). It could've been the lid to a box of size 13 basketball shoes.

Using my TI Graph Link cable and null modem adapter and appropriate terminal software, I was able to dial into a local BBS (while I was in school of all places) using a few AT commands. Needless to say I went as "Modem Boy" back then.
posted by liquoredonlife at 1:12 PM on June 2, 2009


MysticMCJ,

ATm0 was the first AT command I learned when I used Qmodem in dos. :)
posted by liquoredonlife at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2009


Chuffy: Did anybody else catch that he videotaped dialing into a Shiva modem, and then videotaped his username and password, too?

Yup. As soon as I finished watching it I emailed him: "You have changed your passwords, right?"
posted by Pronoiac at 7:35 PM on June 2, 2009


LobsterMitten: "Would you be surprised to know they'll get up to equal mischief?"

Nope. And I'd probably be pleased that they took the initiative.
posted by notyou at 6:19 PM on June 15, 2009


exactly :)
it was a beautiful time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:09 PM on June 15, 2009


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