Do You Remember...Dial-Up Internet?

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

It was the way most connected to the World Wide Web in the 1990s, complete with its extremely distinctive sound—dial-up.

Using a modem (short for modulator, demodulator), dial-up internet connects through telephone lines. While connecting to the ISP (Internet Service Provider), the modem made a distinctive electronic sound.

These were very common during the 1990s, when the internet was truly becoming more common across the United States and the world.

However, starting in the 2000s with the advent of DSL and then cable modems, broadband became more widely used—offering extremely fast download speeds and better performance overall. While most people use broadband now, there are still some in underdeveloped and rural areas that only use dial-up internet.

To download 700 megabytes (the amount of data that is on one CD/CD-ROM), it would take approximately 113 hours on 14.4KBps (a common early dial-up speed) and 29 hours (a common late-generation dial-up speed). The same file would take less than an hour with cable internet, and even less on more-powerful “T1” and “T3” connections.

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