Modem

The old sense of the word “modem” in computing referred to a device that would let two computers communicate over telephone lines. It was quite slow and unreliable by modern standards. Nowadays, the term is more broad.

For stories about modems, see The PC & Internet Revolution in Rural America.

Things that use modems include UUCP and Kermit.


UUCP is a system for exchanging data and requesting remote execution. It dates back to 1979, and was primarily used over Modems using telephone landlines for most of its days of popularity. It is an Asynchronous Communication system, which transmits data from one machine to the next on the way to its destination. Each intermediate node may store the data before passing it on to the next.

Inspired by several others (such as Alex Schroeder’s post and Szcze┼╝uja’s prompt), as well as a desire to get this down for my kids, I figure it’s time to write a bit about living through the PC and Internet revolution where I did: outside a tiny town in rural Kansas. And, as I’ve been back in that same area for the past 15 years, I reflect some on the challenges that continue to play out.

Kermit is one of those things I’m fond of that’s really hard to describe. It is:

What is this mysterious protocol? Who uses it and what is its story?