At work, when the fax machine was still sitting in my office, I deliberately turned the sound on (for those who don't know: the initial handshake part sounds pretty much the same for modems and fax). Then we got a shiny new printer/scanner/fax that now sits in the hallway.
When I had Internet access for the first time (1996), I used a 14.4 modem for about a year, before I could switch to ISDN. To me, sound always signified a window opening to a new, magical world, where the only boundaries were your imagination and available bandwidth.
A friend of mine once dialed the wrong number, and a human picked up. Hearing a human voice from the modem was really strange.
Ah, good times (except for the crappy bandwidth and the fact that the phone company charged by the minute).
I noticed that myself very quickly after getting DSL; while we had a bandwidth limit (1500 MB / month iirc), I still spent a lot of time online; freed from pay per minute, you get a lot more time to just browse and explore. Still do the latter. Usually it's browsing Reddit, but sometimes I fall into a rabbit hole.
> As a result of some recent discussion about Trumpet Winsock and its use during the early 1990s, a group of users at Hacker News have decided to donate to Peter Tattam in appreciation for their use of Trumpet Winsock during the early years of the Internet.
> As a gesture of good will, Peter Tattam, the sole copyright owner of Trumpet Winsock, has also issued an amnesty on any copyright infringement by all users (individual and corporate) of Trumpet Winsock indefinitely for use prior to Jan 2011. He does however reserve all other rights in the copyright of Trumpet Winsock. Please note that Trumpet Winsock is still available for sale and is NOT free - should you wish to continue to use it, you should order a registration key from us.
That sound you just heard was half of HN sighing at how old they feel, including me. :/
That first link literally mentions HN the last time it slashdot'd it.
>Update 20 January 2016
>After 5 relatively quiet years, Trumpet Winsock is back on the front of Hacker News. Welcome back to memories of the dawn of the mass internet age.
After that year with 14.4k modem, I got an ISDN card. Back then, that was a huge step up. Unfortunately, with ISDN you do not get the screeching noise modems make.
Back then it was mostly BBSes because AOL/Compuserv/Prodigy/GEnie all charged by the hour and were quite expensive. Cheapest was around $1/hour, and it didn't even get you proper Internet access. Neither did the BBSes, but at least they were free.
click "Hello, Maple Ridge Police Depar.... damnit, not this again. Let's get a line trace go.."
Turns out (at least here in the UK) if you repeatedly hit the hangup button it will dial emergency services and the splitter was doing the equivalent of that
Very disconcerting as a new internet user to have the police tell you to stop calling them through the back of the computer under the desk
It does confuse people when your phone makes that noise though and then you start talking to it.
I was playing populous over a 300 baud modem in the 80s with my friend.
Also, i was grounded in the early 90s for calling into PCLink and running a $926 long distance phone bill that month.
Then, we setup a warez BBS as the backside to the computer systems we setup in highschool
One of my first jobs was desoldering bad memory out of apple IIs
Man the 80s were fun times.
"No one will need more than 14.4 kb /s. 14.4 kb /s ought to be enough for anybody."
I believe Step 11, in particular, is the one very recognisable as "the fax sound":
When you started adding storage, a modem, daughter boards, etc., it got expensive.
The only controversial part of any sale was the printer housing; because at the time our local professors would not accept anything printed with dot matrix we sold bundles that included a daisywheel printer. People thought we were upselling by telling them they really needed a foam-padded printer enclosure. Spending two or three hundred more on top of an already expensive purchase was often too much so people would skip the enclosure. They were usually back in a week or two looking to purchase the printer stand.
Then I went to school and got a PC and an ISA modem. Turns out it was a precursor to the Software Modems (Winmodems) that came out a couple of years later. It had all of the hardware to negotiate the connection and modulate the data, but offloaded the error correction and compression to the host os. Of course the drivers only worked on Win3.1, so I had to go without most of the time. Turns out it was actually better for gaming since they added latency and my phone lines were clean enough that it wasn't an issue. The only bad thing is that if someone picked up the phone, even for a second, you would lose your link. It just couldn't recover.
You almost certainly mean 14400 bps.
bps refers to the actual amount of data that is being shifted, in terms of 1's and 0's.
baud refers to signally changes per second.
While parent first started using dial-up during the 14400 bps era, I first started using dial-up during the 300bps (v.21) and a little while, and arguably a little worse, dabbled in 75bps during the exciting 1200/75 era (v.23) which, while asymmetric, at least offered effectively duplex communications. Just like today, assumed data flow was generally asymmetric for consumer use - a fairly safe assumption.
Anyway, on a 300bps modem, there was one bit of data transferred per signally change, so they were indeed also 300 baud modems.
v32.bis came along and offered 14400 bps -- a magical leap, but also painful for consumers as there were a number of competing "standards" or variations put out by over-eager manufacturers, and incompatibility issues were common.
But ultimately they all (AFAIK) encoded 6 bits per signally change, and so were 2400 baud modems.
Fascinating area of CS, and well worth reading up on. Start with Claude Shannon and his law.
Most of my dial-up use was local BBS's or access into a (paid) university offering that gave me usenet and email. In both cases it was very heavy ratio of down:up - but IIRC the 1200/75 arrangement was very brief before the arrival of 9600bps.
Another thing from those days that we no longer need is something called a 'midnight line' - British Telecom in the UK offered this; although I never had one I knew of people who did. It was a phone line that was unmetered from 00h00 through to 08h00 or so, which allowed BBS and Usenet users to dial up for free across the country and exchange mail and news feeds. Phone charges at that time were prohibitively expensive, especially nationally, plus local calls were not free in the UK and things like 0800 numbers for POPs were still unheard of.
you missed out then on BBSs
It was so strange having my kids laugh at this strange noise that was a deep part of my childhood and eventual profession.
http://www.windytan.com/2017/09/descrambling-split-band-voic... "Voice inversion is a primitive method of rendering speech unintelligible to prevent eavesdropping of radio or telephone calls."
http://www.windytan.com/2017/07/virtual-music-box.html "A little music project I was writing required a melody be played on a music box. However, the paper-programmable music box I had (pictured) could only play notes on the C major scale. I couldn't easily find a realistic-sounding synthesizer version. [...] Perhaps, if I digitized the sound myself, I could build a flexible virtual instrument to generate just the perfect sample for the piece!"
My favorite is "Mystery signal from a helicopter" http://www.windytan.com/2014/02/mystery-signal-from-helicopt...
I'm an old timer, and have even used a 300 baud modem with an acoustic coupler that the article referred to. I listened to the evolution of modem handshakes, and had no idea what parts meant what, but over the years I correlated different problems to different sounds, and through osmosis learned the various AT commands for different chip manufacturers (the main three I ran across were Hayes/Rockwell, USR, and Motorola) to lock them in certain modes - set the flow control mode (RTS/CTS or X-on/X-off), set the max and min baud rates, and set various error control algorithm modes.
Doing tech support for a couple years in the 90s, the biggest problem I saw (beyond the fact that average users were pretty unsophisticated back then), was the quality of telephone lines in certain areas of the country. If you live in the sticks, you're screwed and lucky to achieve 9600 baud with any consistency. If you live in larger cities with crumbling infrastructure, you're likely to have some "signal bleed" (not sure what to call it) where other conversations are faintly audible on your lines. In both of these cases, the negotiation sequence would restart several times, sometimes getting lucky and connecting, but more often failing until we found the right AT commands to lock a lower baud rate and force error correction - MNP? I think that was the magic bullet in most cases.
In the end, the phone infrastructure improved greatly just about everywhere, but by then it didn't matter as much, as people started moving to cable modems, typically plugged directly into a desktop computer, running Win 95 and getting hijacked by 0 day exploits to build the first botnets. Good times.
Anyway, I'm glad to see this article has held up over time and people still find it interesting.
> Why was it audible? Why not, one could ask. [...]
> Even then, the idea of not hearing what's happening
> on a phone line you're calling on was quite new,
> and modems would default to exposing the user to the handshake audio. [...]
> All you had to do to silence the handshake was to send the command ATM0
> down the serial line before dialing.
I am for using the computer's own low-level apparatus as progress bars, instead of the opaque logos or polished animated graphics, blocking the view like a royal guard. For example, I wish my laptop and my phone listed the shell's output during boot, like some Linux distros still do. Even though most users wouldn't fully understand it --- and I have to admit that even I don't understand a lot of it --- the quickly scrolling text is no worse than an animated spinner in conveying, "Loading..."
I think most users, and I mean nontechnical, are okay with the exposure and even kind of like it. It makes them feel like they're in a spy movie. Some will never try to understand it and will just take it as a more-detailed progress spinner. Some will slowly become familiar with some of the lines, google them out of curiosity, and it may be the spark that lights them down the long trek to becoming a programmer. Isn't that one of our country's goals, to encourage kids to become programmers?
Anyway, my point is, I came to programming from graphic design and front-end. I spend a lot of time thinking about user-interface design. But maybe I'm against the grain in wanting some of the architecture to be allowed to hang out. (Does that make me a Brutalist?)
Somewhat ironic is that KDE3 splashscreen showed low-levelish looking messages that had nothing to do with what was really happening in order to cater to users with this approach to computing.
We used to be able to tell how busy the computer is by listening to the hard drive click. As computers get quieter, this kind of feedback would be useful.
In particular as Android (at least all the versions i have interacted with) tends to "lock up" during heavy IO activity (i find Firefox to be particularly adept at triggering this for some reason), something i have come to believe is a deeply embedded behavior characteristic of the Linux kernel.
And yes i live and die by the boot scroll, and hate any and all efforts to hide these things away under the "user friendly" banner.
Widening and deepening user involvement-- through portals, gateways, peepholes, and trap-doors-- into a labyrinth of techno-primitive toolmaking utopia.. hah
What might that look like? Who knows? I have been thinking about the variation of user-modes represented, perhaps, as masks, deepening and widening layers of involvement, according to need, habit, curiosity and play. The relation between the masks and the nature of the masks is still in geststion.
Here in SP (sao paulo), in the 13-story abandoned building we've transformed into an an artist residency and resource center, we're exploring the theme 'Ancestral/Astral' for an event set to take place in the middle of December. Ancest-ASTRAL-ity : The ideal state of discovering the essence of what makes us human, our roots, through exploratory perspectives of our shared heritage and created future.
What has interested me personally since hearing about postmarkertOS is humans and tools: the psychology of tool use, our relationship with TECHNOS. A major theme that has remained constant throughout our human story is our use of tools to influence our future.
How do we improve or make new tools? Usually with tools we've already built.
You have two fuzzily-distinct elements: tools and techniques.
But how would these design logix (like the boot-phase peephole you mentioned) materialize?
Ideally this would happen on a mobile device running linux (im most interested in developing world megacities).
Maybe start with easily malleable UI layers, that use modern web semantics (react × APIs).
Make a boot-phase people have some interaction layers thst stimulate the curious user to explore what is happening. There are a lot of ways to do it, and all of them are right.
If interested, u can find me in the postmarketOS matrix/freenode channel.
Sorry if this does not meet aesthetic requirements, im on mobile.
Animation of the picture illustrated in this article:
If you live with someone >= 30, turn up the volume and wait for him/her to appear at the door for a nostalgia moment...
Which refers to iZotope Ozone, that audio mastering software. Normally you would put in one or two timeseries (that is a mono or stereo audio file where the y axis is amplitude).
In this case the audio is mono, and you're looking at a short time fourier transformation (STFT) with the parameters as in the description, where the height is de magnitude of the frequency bins, and the Y axis (from right to left in the video) is frequencies from low to high, in logarithmic scale as is standard in audio.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3G2eHEnt7c here it is used on some music
The carrier signal was a little weak and I had to whistle the correct tone down the line to get the other end to pickup :-)
We also when we had a project that used modems for remote data collection our electronics shop modified (technically illegal) the modems with adjustable gain
ISDN by contrast puts a digital signal where the PSTN analog signal normally is (iirc).
Mind you, 8/10 encoding is amazing as well, and a good explanation of that would be well worth a read for this audience!
In this one I embedded the signal into a song, and then the phones would parse the modulated data to all synchronize together and create an ad hoc light show with the flashlights!
In recent years, one particularly significant contributor is Boris Smus  who released some example code in 2013 and went on to develop the Google Chromecast's ultrasonic pairing mode .
Ultrasonic networking has also been leveraged by tracking apps and SDKs , and has occasionally featured as a product pitch . It also pops up every once in a while as a proof-of-concept, Show HN, or github code dump -- it's one of those "I can't believe this isn't done more often, so I'm gonna do it" ideas whose deployment is actually more widespread that most people suspect.
 http://smus.com/ultrasonic-networking/  https://gigaom.com/2014/06/26/chromecast-will-use-ultrasonic...  https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13337949  https://www.chirp.io/
The transfer speed and noise are, obviously, too low/high to make any practical use out of this, but it's a cool experiment anyways.
I remember reading about a exploit/virus for BIOS that could coordinate an attack with infrasound, but I can't find any link.
Here's a real exploit instead. Audio-only attack revealing RSA private keys in GPG!
Not sure what the actual technical specification for the method is.
I do remember hooking up two modems directly with a phone line, turning off dial tone detection on the answering modem and issuing an ATA on the answering modem and a ATDT on the calling modem and negotiating a connection that way. It still was only able to transmit at roughly 3 KB/sec.
Lots of fascinating content in that blog!
Or it's just the acoustics of older, crappier speakers
I also remember the sound being a bit different (in the UK, but probably close if not identical to the Netherlands). I'd like to test, and there's probably a dial-up modem in the junk box at work, but I don't have a phone line.
My ears are saying that it sounds more like a 14.4k negotiation.
I could tell the speed of the connection by the sound of the handshake.
I see a new ringtone :)