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Gone With the Winmodem

A personal look at US Robotic's Winmodem line.

The internet was not always the omnipresent entity it is today. It had been lurking in the background of conversations with more knowledgeable friends for quite a while before it came flooding into my life, and my parents decided to sign up with a local service.

Of course, this meant getting a modem.

I quickly learned from a friend that US Robotics (now part of 3Com) made the best modems.

What he didn't tell me (until later), was that they also made the worst. I ended up with an early Sportster Winmodem.

I heard of (and learned firsthand) more bad stories of the Winmodem over the next several years than I care to recall. Sadly, general penuriousness meant that I was using either it or a faster version from a friend all the way until broadband access eliminated a need for a modem entirely.

It did its job--with a lot of coaching in Windows 3.1. In Windows 95 and later, installation was a major pain (it was often called 'pseudo plug-and-play; it would respond, but it wouldn't contact the system on its own). Once installed correctly, there were no problems, and it gave reliable service.