TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Hayes Smartmodems (was Re: Bell Divestiture)

Hayes Smartmodems (was Re: Bell Divestiture)

Fred Atkinson (
Wed, 22 Jun 2005 19:26:35 -0400

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I had a couple of Hayes Modems which
> could be switched between pulse and tone dialing, and you could set
> the 'speed' of the pulsing or the 'speed' of the tone signals. You
> could make both modes go quite fast; with tone dialing so fast that
> it was little more than just a single blip in your ear, and most
> times it would work quite well. Only on occassion the modem would
> give its short little blip or tone burst when dialing *before* the
> line was set up to allow it, and you would have to redial, but
>usually it worked okay. PAT]

I had a Hayes 300 modem when 1200 baud was considered astronomically
fast. I kept it until I upgraded to a Hayes 2400 baud modem. I think
both of them are still in one of my goody boxes put away, for all the
good they'll be to me now.

I had become very familar with the Smartmodem when it first came out.
I was working for MCI at the time. One day, we got a phone call from
a salesman who was at one of our customer sites. This customer had
several MCI long distance lines hooked up to his PBX. The salesman
had sold them a Smartmodem 1200 but was unable to make it work through
the PBX. When the customer mentioned the MCI lines, the salesman
pointed the finger at MCI.

So the customer called and put the salesman on the phone with one of
our people. That person just happened to know I knew a lot about the
Smartmodem and transfered the salesman to me.

I got him to describe the setup. Then I asked him how he was making
it dial. He told me that he was typing in 'ATD9,' and then the area
code and the number.

I knew immediately what was wrong when he said that. I told him to
try typing in 'ATDT9,' and the area code and the number. He took this
attitude that how could a telephone technician know anything about a

I asked him what he had to lose by trying it. So, finally, he did.

I heard him typing, then I heard the dial tone from the Smartmodem,
then I heard it outpulse digit 9 in DTMF. I then heard secondary
dialtone and then the area code and number outpulsed in DTMF.

Then, I heard the distant modem answer, the local modem respond in
carrier, and then the speaker went silent.

I then heard the salesman shout, 'IT WORKS'. Then he came back to the
telephone. His voice was showing that he was very embarrassed.

I knew I was going to laugh out loud, so I needed to get off the phone
quickly. I told him I was glad to help him and that he should call me
back if he ever needed more help. Thank you and goodbye, so to speak.
I laughed hysterically for several minutes after I got off the phone.

The boss was very grateful. This was a customer we wanted to keep a
very good relationship with. He thanked me very much.

When Hayes designed the Smartmodem, they should have had the unit
default to touch-tone instead of outpulsing rotor dialing by default.
Incidents like this could have been avoided. I happened to know that
this customer's PBX did not support rotary dialing. The 'T' I added
to the string switched the unit from default rotary dialing to touch
tone. Problem solved.


Fred Atkinson

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I think we used 'ATT' for tone dialing
and 'ATP' for pulse dialing. Fred, (in a help desk capacity) did you
ever run across customers who _lied_, told you they had tried to do
something but in fact had not done it at all. When I used to work at
TerraWorld several years ago (even then, the oldest employee they
had working there) overnight shift on the help desk, I would make
suggestions to customers such as 'unplug and reboot your modem' and
people would not do it! They'd tell you they had 'already done that'
but you _knew_ they had not and were just looking for someone to
argue with . It sounds to me like your salesman was sort of the
same way. There was no where else he could pass the buck off to, so
decided to argue with you instead. PAT]

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