[LMB] OT: Tech marches on

Joel Polowin jpolowin at hotmail.com
Mon Dec 13 05:25:20 GMT 2021

Robert Woodward <Robert_A_Woodward at comcast.net> wrote:
> When I started work (in 1973), we were dialing into the central
> computer using 300 baud modems (with an acoustic coupler - dialed
> the number, waited for the computer to answer, and inserted the phone
> into the coupler). A year or two later, the engineering group I was
> assigned to got a dedicated 600 baud line for its Tektronix graphics
> terminal. Several years later, 2400 baud modems were common (it was
> actually fast enough to keep up with my typing).

A few months after I started my Ph.D., I ended up going out to a pub
with a couple of friends and some of their acquaintances.  Several
worked for the university's computing centre as support, and they
got to talking about the idiots' calls they'd handled.  One started
hooting about the fool who'd called asking what the computer's *real*
communication speed was, when it was supposed to be 1200 baud.

I told him that that had been me.  And that, *as I'd told him*,
though the nominal speed was 1200 baud, it was obvious that the data
was coming through far more slowly than that -- that I was having no
trouble keeping up with reading the text, and that it looked like what I
was used to seeing on a 300-baud connection.  And that at my *previous*
university -- the one that the students at this one liked to sneer at --
there'd been a utility which was able to determine exactly that: the
*actual* data transfer rate.  Perhaps this university's systems didn't
have that ability?  Or perhaps the support people here didn't know about
such a distinction, and couldn't understand when a computer-literate
person tried to explain..?


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