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.