Novation Advert - February 1980
From Creative Computing
Take Your Pick of the Litter - Novation
Up until the back end of the 1990s, the Modem was the only affordable way that people at home could connect to the Internet - and various other networks, databases, dial-ups or bulletin-board systems before it - and it had that way since the first home computers started arriving on the scene in the mid 1970s.
This advert - which Novation was still running, unchanged, in May 1982 - is for modem company Novation, a company whose product lines mostly had things with the word "cat" in them.
It includes the Apple Cat II - an internal modem fitted to an Apple II, which cost $389, or about £1,470 in 2024 money, as well as the "Cat Acoustic" modem for $189, a more affordable £710 in 2024 terms.
It's this sort of acoustic-coupler modem that was seen in the film War Games, when Matthew Broderick dials in to hack the school's computer. According to the film's DVD commentary, although this type of modem was obsolete by then, viewers would more readily understand what was happening.
The speeds that acoustic modems would work were in the order of 150-300 baud (roughly bits per second) - that's nearly 7,000-times slower than even 1mbps broadband.
They remained popular for longer than they should due mostly to the telecom incumbent's (e.g. Bell in the US and the GPO in the UK) stranglehold over what devices could be connected to their networks.
Text and otherwise-uncredited photos © nosher.net 2024. Dollar/GBP conversions, where used, assume $1.50 to £1. "Now" prices are calculated dynamically using average RPI per year.