Thursday, May 28, 2009

Circa 1964 Livermore Data Systems Model A Modem

So I was going through some old stuff in my garage and I found this antique modem that I've had since I was a teenager.  Turns out it's a Livermore Data Systems "Model A".   I decided to hook it up and see if it works, and I made a YouTube video in the process:




I'll get around to posting some better photos of it this weekend, I promise!

28 comments:

  1. Fantastic. Good protocols will stand the test of time. Even at 300 baud...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember using a 1200/75 baudrate modem for accessing viewdata services in the UK in mid-80's

    Heady days :)

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice! thanks for posting this. I remeber seeing an older transducer modem growing up but I never saw one in action.

    thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had the pleasure of attending a talk you gave at DEFCON. And then a fan of mine sent me a link to this! I've spread the word and it looks like you're getting a lot of hits for it. Take care of that thing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's pretty amazing. The USB converter voltage issue had me gobsmacked. I had no idea the original modulation was so simple.

    Have you tried seeing how painful a proper PPP or SLIP session would be? Until you've done that, the modem hasn't technically connected to the Internet.

    Also, is the speed limit due to the modulation? Have you tried driving it at 1200 or 2400 baud? Obviously any multi-bit baud won't work, and my suspicion is that the negotiation would fail unless you were to hack the modem to emit a different carrier tone, which obviously is not something that should be taken lightly with such a beautiful, old piece of hardware.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This demo was a thing of beauty, as is that modem! I'd like to see dovetail joinery return to technology cases.

    My first modem (mainly because I was really cheap) was a Webcor 300-baud unit, so the connection speed seemed eerily familiar to me.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. About 20 years ago I was in the clerk's office of the York County, Va., Circuit Court. There I saw a pale green Bakelite box about 18" long, marked "MODEM". I didn't inspect it, but I imagine it was a military surplus modem from the '60s or '70s. They may still have it, if you'd care to check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for doing this video! I was feeling pretty cutting edge with my 300 baud modem in the late '70s. I can't believe this device had already been in existence for 15 years at that time. The more amazing find is that the modulation protocols hadn't changed. I'm blown away that you were able to make this work with relatively modern equipment. Take really good care of that modem! It's good to remember our tech roots :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for posting this up. It's great to see ancient computer devices in action! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Cool device! I've never seen, how analog modems works :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Casey,

    This is an awesome video. Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to share with us. As someone who is deeply interested in computer history, this was incredible to watch.

    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very cool, K.C. Thanks for sharing that relic with us!

    Reminds me of the setup I had to lug around with me during my internship as a reporter during college--suitcase-sized "laptop" with a separate modem that wasn't much different than that one, though smaller.

    And, you've reminded me why I never got too heavily into BBS's. I was never patient enough!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations! It is fantastic, very good! XD

    Info Tecki - Brazil Force!
    Informação e Tecnologia a Kilo!

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's amazing how long modems have come since then. ADSL2+ and DOCIS 3.0 modems transferring data multiple times larger than the grandfather modem!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Just saw the video on '64 modem.Fantastic.......

    ReplyDelete
  16. I remember using an acoustic MODEM a few years ago when I lived in an unserviced area, running through a bag phone (remember those?)... This is all to familliar to me. At least I'm not the only one who has used one of these units in the last few years.

    That, by the way, is a beautiful piece of equipment you've got there, excellent workmanship.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I loved the video! It brought back memories of my first self-made 300Baud acoustic coupler -- unfortunately, we had birds in the living room, and whenever they opened their mouth, the connection would drop. So I had to wait until 1200 Baud became available, where the galvanic separation was done with a transformer, and not air and sound. Plus, 1200 was blazingly fast! You wouldn't want to go back!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Fantastic video! I want such box for my computer :-)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Senk767...

    hithere...

    ReplyDelete
  20. ...

    ??? ??????? ??????????, ??? ???? ?? ????? ???????. ...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Brings back memories.. Tradewars 2k2, Solar Realms Elite, Legend of the red dragon, those were the best games "EVER"!

    ReplyDelete
  22. The first Acoustic Coupler was not built by Livermore until 1968, so this is no older than that. I used these before I had access to 1200 baud modems so I found this fairly ordinary and not worthy of all the "ooh aah". The fact that you're able to connect to the internet through it is quite plebian ... it's the remote computer that's connected to the internet, and is simply exchanging text with your terminal via the phone line / coupler. I was present at UCLA when Charley Kline made the first network login, into the SRI node, via IMPs ... now that was something to be excited about.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great! Just saw the video on wimp.com. I'm of the vintage where I've used a few acoustically coupled modems, all in molded plastic enclosures. To see one this old packaged in a fine wooden enclosure is a treat.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous Middle Aged ManJuly 21, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    Another hit from wimp.com. Fantastic! My high school computer teacher used to whistle into the modem to get it print characters--all garbage--to the screen (a TV, of course). I wonder if anyone was ever a good enough whistler to write anything intelligible. Now that would be something. Thanks for posting this great vid.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Awesome demo. I have an old 300 baud acoustic coupler that has a white plastic case. I would love to see if I can use it to connect over my Vonage VOIP service. :)

    By the way, that telephone you are using is way too new. Somewhere around here I have an old dial phone with 45 foot handset cord. It even has the special switch for use with a party line!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I suspect this is actually a 110 baud modem, no? 300 baud was all the rage in the 1970's when I got started. This whole post burns with awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ever since I saw your video in 2009 on hackaday, I've been searching for an antique modem to replicate your awesome setup. I FINALLY found one!
    http://imgur.com/a/wlbod
    It's a model B Livermore. I want to fire it up and see if it works after decades of storage but I did not get a D25 cable with it. I remember reading somewhere you had to hack your own RS232 cable to get it to work. Would you still have those schematics?

    ReplyDelete