[vcf-midatlantic] AT&T Dataphone - Modem or "Service"?

Jeffrey Jonas jeffrey.scott.jonas at gmail.com
Thu Aug 8 03:58:36 EDT 2019

The short-short of it: citing
    Dataphone is a registered trademark of AT&T

I saw the Dataphone label on all sorts of modems:
SDLC, async, dialup and probably leased line as well.

Citing Justin Jernigan's posting

> It was a Service, appears to still be,
> though likely no longer actively sold.
> It's one of the first digital services tariffed by the telephone companies ...
> This was pre-divestiture, so service and equipment were "one"

Set the wayback machine to 1976 (the US Bicentennial).

"Ma Bell" was a regulated monopoly, personified in many ways,
most memorably Lily Tomlin's character Ernestine the switchboard operator.

But internally, Bell System folks were extremely proud of their work,
creating and maintaining "the best phone service in the world".

You were not allowed to own phone equipment: it was all leased
thus all the Western Electric phones saying "not for sale".
Add an extension phone and you'd get a "service call" to force you to
disconnect it.
Even after-market equipment was forbidden, such as the "name caller" auto-dialer
(which pulse-dialed numbers you filled onto a plastic belt
with an electrographic pencil).

New York City high schools all had an IBM RJE (remote job entry) terminal:
card reader and line printer, to a modem the operator had to manually dial
with a rotary phone (no smart modems, yet!).
At the other end was an IBM 360/370 running HASP or JES for batch jobs.

As to the rack of modems the Original Poster remembers:
that's probably intended for the receiving end:
answer-only or answer-mostly mode.
UUCP was the only way I was aware of AT&T hardware weirdness
where the dialer was separate from the modem.

-- jeff jonas

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