Cute to huge: PC networks in front of the Internet

The first private connections that could be used to exchange digital information with another computer user were via a local mailbox. Such – mostly privately operated – computers had one or more modem connections through which registered users could log into the mailbox program with terminal software such as Kermit. There they could post their own contributions in various topic groups and read those of other users.

The electrical data transmission between end devices can be traced back to telex machines from the 19th century, which were connected to one another via their own telex network. You can read how this technology developed into the modern fiber optic network in the article “The first on the network: How AOL, BTX and Compuserve brought private customers online”. In the early years of the computer, the data was transmitted via acoustic couplers with a microphone and loudspeaker, with bombastic data rates of 300 bit / s. At best, unformatted texts could be sent on the journey as letter processions.

Connections via modem with electronically generated signals later dominated. In the mid-1990s, speeds of up to 33,600 bit / s were realistic with the V.34 transmission standard and also allowed the transmission of images and program files.

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