Surfing the Web at 300 Baud

Chris Higgins

So...let's say you have an old modem, but you want to get on the web. Sucks to be you, 56k dialup is painfully slow, end of story -- right? Well, normally that'd be the case. But here's a video of a guy with a really, really old modem: a Livermore Data Systems Model A 300bps Acoustic Coupler Modem, circa 1964, a handmade device in a beautifully crafted wooden box (complete with dovetailed joints and leather handle). Can you surf the web using this thing? Exactly how painful would it be? Why not watch this awesome video and find out? (If you're impatient and/or don't care about the technical details, skip to around 7 minutes in to see a demo of loading the Wikipedia homepage via the lynx browser.) This is quite possibly the oldest modem still in use (though if you have something older, please speak up!):

Discussed: the provenance of this particular modem; voltage of RS-232 serial ports; hearing modulation as you hit keys on the keyboard; how to connect a completely analog 45-year-old modem to a modern laptop; exactly how slow it is to load a page (even just a text page)