Hayes Stack Smartmodem 300 and 1200

If you wanted to go online in the early 1980s, you either used an acoustic coupler that you set a telephone headset into or a slow, expensive internal modem made for whatever bus your computer used. Hayes changed that with the introduction of the Smartmodem in 1981.

The 300 bps Smartmodem was an external device that connected to a standard RS-232 serial port. It had several features that set it apart from the competition. Dual-mode operation was an innovation that provided for a data mode and a command mode. This allowed the modem to distinguish from data being sent and commands such as hang up or dial a number. It also had its own microcontroller, which was unusual at the time. The Smartmodem could also tell the speed setting for the computer’s serial port.

The Smartmodem was renamed the Stack Smartmodem when the 1200 bps was introduced in April 1982. The term “stack” referred to its case design which allowed for a desk phone to sit on top. Hayes also planned to introduce other peripherals that could be stacked on the Smartmodem.

Many of Hayes’s competitors soon tried to imitate the Smartmodem’s features. Those modems were referred to as “Hayes compatible.”

Introduced: April 1981 (Smartmodem 300), April 1982 (Stack Smartmodem 1200)
Original Retail Price: $699 (Stack Smartmodem 1200)

Published by

Michael Nadeau

I am the author of Collectible Microcomputers (Schiffer Books, 2002) and have been an editor of many technology publications including BYTE, 80 Micro, and HOT CoCo. My interest in the history of information technology is broad. I use my blogs, ClassicTech and Vintage Computer Photos, to build on the work I did for Collectible Microcomputers.

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