A tiny Hayes modem for your tiny retro computer

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/07/03/a-tiny-hayes-modem-for-your-ti.html

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The purpose of the device is to act as a bridge between your serial port and your local WiFi router.

HAHAHA - NO - They lost me at WiFi.

Modems always serial (RS-232 is serial), not parallel


How is this different from any number of pre-existing rs232 to network adapters out there?

you have analog modems to go along with your vintage computer collection? And so do your favorite bulletin board systems?

This strikes me as an elegant solution. Not really on par with a microdrive turbo in terms of versatility, but still up there.


That’s why they lost me at WiFi, because it is an elegant solution perhaps only for those who already use WiFi. It is a lot less elegant to introduce a third intermediary protocol (with its associated hardware) than to bridge the first two directly.

The demographics of niche markets almost always turn out to be a tad skewed, but Wifi is pretty ubiquitous, especially with so many hand held devices around these days.
Even a laptop can get less useful if you’re chained to a wall socket.

Direct bridge, as in serial to Ethernet? I think adding WiFi into the mix gives much more flexibility than direct cabling. Surely many home networks have WiFi, but no wired LAN in place. I, personally, move my units around from machine to machine, which would be difficult with direct Ethernet, and I have more networks cables strewn about my computer room than most, I think.


I just wish they would quit running stories about this when there is no way to order them. This is the second time they’ve featured this device and the guys website has been steady sold out for months with no indication of a new production run.

Yup. It’s a serial port, not a parallel port.

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When in doubt, say DB25…


It’s not a (telephone) modem at all, it’s a wifi adapter with a Hayes-like interface.

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This isn’t one of them; just a serial port from the heroic age; before they dwindled in size, pin count, and often voltage; but there is at least one exception.

Microcom made the “Deskporte Fast” modem that(in addition to offering a serial port for communicating with normal operating systems) could be used with a parallel port and appropriate drivers; allegedly for higher speeds.

Here’s an ad from late 1994-ish.

I think that Compaq devoured them, so you probably can’t get your copy of the Parallel Port Interface: A Windows Communications Necessity whitepaper anymore; but such were the marvels of the Before Times.

It was mostly horrible; but for a mercifully brief time all sorts of things that never should have been connected to parallel ports were tried; since they were faster than serial if you bit banged hard enough; and way more common on low end IBM compatibles than SCSI. CD-ROM drives, ZIP disks, ethernet interfaces, scanners, all the world’s copy protection dongles in a giant daisy chain of user hatred…


What was the speed of the serial port Microcom was competing against, and how did it compare to a mac’s rs-422 port?

I’m not sure. I didn’t have internet access, dialup or otherwise, until the point where it was mostly winmodems in the cheap seats and serial ports amply faster than anything you could actually cram over a phone line everywhere else.

If we take the most charitable interpretation; I imagine that people stuck with 8250(or especially dreadful 16550 clone) UARTs would indeed have been seriously hampered even at 28.8 modem speeds; and using the parallel port might have been more appealing than upgrading to 16550s. However, I don’t know how many people were in that position by 1994. My (admittedly fuzzy) memory is that having to actually worry about your UART was receding into the past at that point, though I may be remembering that wrong.

As for the macs; I’m told that Your Mileage May Vary. Apparently the Zilog SCCs were pretty cool compared to boring beige WinTel UARTs; hence LocalTalk and GeoPort and such; but that they weren’t particularly inspiring when just trying to do RS-232 reasonably fast. I assume that Apple cleaned that one up eventually; but I didn’t deal much with the really old macs(and to the degree I did they weren’t on dialup), so I don’t know how well that went or how long it took.

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Oh right. bad memories of debugging linux come flooding back. Damn you, winmodems!

Also: https://www.lammertbies.nl/comm/info/serial-uart.html

and on the mac side


This isn’t a modem.

It’s a wifi equipped serial network interface that supports the Hayes command set for terminal software compatibility and for that retro flair.

It’s a simple way to get old school devices on the internet that don’t have network connectivity but do have a serial port and some sort of comm program (which most computers would have).

You could run BBS software (break out the WWIV for DOS, CNet for your Amiga, or Hermes for your Mac Plus) and all the door games your desire on your ancient hardware and easily open it up to the internet.

Boing Boing should totally do this for some added retroness. I could go for some Pimp Wars.


Saw that on LGR.


Here are two videos showing how to encapsulate tcp/ip over the WiFI232 device using Linux:

There’s also one showing Windows 98 SE, but the connection is unstable at this point:


Hey man, your computer doesn’t know it’s not a modem.