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DC Hayes --  History

Dennis C. Hayes and Dale Heatherington invented the PC modem in 1977, establishing the critical technology that allowed today's online and Internet industries to emerge and grow.   Dennis left the Georgia Institute of Technology in the mid-1970s to work at a company called National Data Corp which was involved in handling electronic money transfers and credit card authorizations. Hayes' job was to set up modem connections for NDC's customers.  He realized that home computers could really take advantage of the technology and in April 1977 with his friend Dale (also at National Data), they pooled their funds and bought an IMSAI 8080 computer kit. After they got it working they designed a modem for it. Out of Dales home they produced their famous 80-103A S-100 modem.  Of the two, Dale was all about technology and electronics design, while Dennis was much more business oriented. A great combination to start such a company.

The 103 was an immediate success and in January 1978 they founded D.C. Hayes Associates, Inc. They were located in Atlanta GA.  Later this was changed to Hayes Microcomputer products.  Next he sold a similar board for the Apple (the Micromodem II) with even grater success.

The real advance for the company came with the introduction of non-board level modems. These separate units with their own power supplies were called Smartmodems. These were connected to the computer over an RS232 data line and were controlled from the computer with various "AT" commands.  They are all non S-100 boards so I won't dwell on them. Suffice to say there were over time, many of increasing complexity and speed.   All sold very well.

The appearance of the Internet with its demands for high speed networks (ADSL and Broadband) eventually lead to the demise of such modems. Unfortunately Hayes had bet the company on another protocol, ISDN, assuming it would be the method of internet communications in the future. It never happened for many reasons.

Hayes could not switch gears to DSL or cable modems in time. The company entered Chapter 11 in 1994 and want through various names and forms to close completely in 1999.

Hayes Smartmodem

Bulletin Board Systems
It would not be possible to talk about Hayes modems without talking about Bulletin Board Systems (or BBS's). The first public dial-up Bulletin Board System was developed by Ward Christensen and his hardware friend Randy Suess in Chicago during a snow blizzard in December 1978.  They used a pair of Micromodem-100's to communicate with each other via a "Computerized Bulletin Board System". This was piece of software that allowed somebody to phone into a computer and leave a message there and/or communicate with others also present.  Many of us ran up large phone bills at the time corresponding with others -- sometimes overseas.  Most of the information was displayed using ordinary ASCII text or ANSI art.

As modems increased in speed, 600Baud, 1200 baud, 9600 baud... the concept really became practical and grew into a nationwide network. Because the system was computer/hardware independent it catalyzed the interactions between S-100 computers and the many other types of the era.  "BBSes" reached their peak usage around 1996, which was the same period that the World Wide Web suddenly became mainstream.
However it all could not have started at that time without the DC Hayes modem.


D.C. Hayes S-100 Boards
80-103a    Micromodem-100


This page was last modified on 10/25/2013