What Is A Modem? Its Types, History, and Brands Covered!

It has been so many years since the modems became integral to our internet-dominated life. Whether it’s the first-world countries enjoying high-speed internet or the third-world countries where such privileges are rare, the computer modems can be found revolutionizing the world of the internet all across the globe.

what is a modem
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For many, the word ”Modem” may sound familiar, but for the majority, it may be a little bit of a different case. Well, if you count yourself among the latter group and suffer from the blurred concept of modem, this content is specifically penned for you.

While browsing this page you would know all about a modem device, its history, a few types, and the short yet understandable anatomy defining its components.

What Is A Modem?

A Modem is an electronic device that converts computer-generated digital signals to analog signals for internet connectivity. Designed to convert the data both ways, a Modem also converts analog signals to digital signals.

In Layman’s terms, a Modem is used to act as a bridge between the internet-providing channel and the computer or the Wi-Fi-router. While a router throws the Wi-Fi signals allowing us to connect to the internet, a Modem provides the router with the internet data. So, a Modem device runs as an internet-providing base for both the computer and the Wi-Fi-router.  The significance of a Modem lies in the fact that the internet can’t be provided to the users without it.

What Does A Modem Do?

In order to understand the answer, take a look at your home internet system for a moment. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) sends analog signals to your computing devices for the provision of the internet service. After all, it’s what you are paying the ISP for.  

However, these analog signals can’t be read by your computing devices which is where the Modem comes into action. When the Modem receives analog signals from the ISP, it turns them into digital signals which are compatible with the computing devices. 

But wait, the signal conversion process doesn’t end here. Your devices are also required to send the data back to the ISP through digital signals. These signals are incompatible with the ISP system. Hence Modem converts the digital signals into the readable version of the analog signals.

Is A Modem Necessary?

No, you don’t necessarily need a Modem for an internet connection. These days, routers that support wireless networks are taking the lead. Since most modern routers are capable of connecting with a wireless network, our reliance on Modems has been reduced.

History Of Modem

Undeniably, the earliest history of Pre-Internet Modems starts from the early 1920s. When the internet wasn’t there for the public service, early types of modems were used to transmit data across the telephone systems. The early Modems differed from the modern Modems both in structure and functionality. 

Aware of the significance of the-then Modems, the United States Military decided to use them for the purpose of data transmission before and after the 2nd World War. Over the next few years, modems went through some major changes and offered advanced features by the end of the 1950s. 

Thanks to the first-ever commercial purpose Bell 101 modem manufactured by AT&T in 1959, modems started to make it into the international market. The first-ever commercially built modem was relatively slower which forced the AT&T developers to work on improving its speed. 

In the next three years, AT&T developers strived hard to taste the success. As a result, Bell 103 came into existence offering a super-speed three times more than its predecessor. The explosive 300 bit/s speed of the Bell 103 Modem was fairly enough for the commercial users of the early 1960s. 

While Modems went through a great transformation in the next few years, Bell 103 ruled the Modem industry indisputably. This changed with the arrival of the first-ever PC-specific Modem in 1977. Invented by Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington, the Modem was called 80-103A which improved the user experience significantly. 

For the next couple of decades, 80-103A dominated the PC market without major competition. However, this was challenged by the Canadian engineer Brent Townshend who invented the 56K Modem in 1996. 

The invention of the 56K modem proved to be a nail in the coffin for the ancient Modems. The godspeed of 56K enabled a superior internet experience and the surfing improved drastically. Now the users could load multiple heavy web pages at a time and the users got rid of the pathetically slow loading time.

1959AT&TInvented Bell 101 Modem powered by a speed of 110 bit/s
1962AT&TEngineered Bell 103 Modem that featured a speed of 300 bit/s
1973VadicMarketed the VA3400 which could run at a speed of 1,200 bit/s
1976AT&TIntroduced the 212A Modem as a clear reply to VA3400
1977BellIntroduced the 80-103A which was the first-ever PC-Oriented Modem.
1984BellInvented the V.22 bis Modem that offered 2,400-bit/s
1990sBellManufactured V.32 Modems
1996Brent TownshendInvented the super-fast 56K Modem
A Table displaying history of Modems including the inventions that paved the way for the modern-day modem.

Types Of Modems

There are three types of Modems used for internet connectivity all across the world. The Modems come with different features and speed limits for different types of internet users. For your better understanding, these Modems are listed in the table below.

DSL ModemThis type of Modem establishes a connection between a computer and a telephone-based Internet
Cable ModemThe Cable Modem relies on the Cable service box for Internet connection
Wireless ModemA Wireless Modem connects to the Internet Service Provider without using the Telephone or Cable service systems

All Modem Brands

Every Modem brand differs from the other both in terms of the customer base and the efficiency of products. While a great number of Modem brands are based in the western hemisphere, some of the best ones are also based in Asia. The following provides a short summary of the most famous Modem brands in the world.

MotorolaThe American telecommunications company produces some of the best Modems in the world
EdimaxThe Taiwan-based solutions provider offers advanced Modems
ConexantDevelops up-to-date Modems for improved-user experience
SynapticsMarkets smart and affordable Modems
USRoboticsOne of the biggest Modems manufacturers in the U.S
BelkinHolds a large share of the American Modem market
TP-LinkServes the Modem-related needs of the Asian customers
ActiontecIts a leading manufacturer of the broadband Modems
HuaweiBased in China, Huawei has a huge customer base of Modems
NetgearThis American Modem developer offers a great customer service
D-LinkIt is one of the most trusted names in the Asian Modem market
ZyXELOffers next generation Modems for secure internet connection
BeetelThey offer telephone-specific internet Modems
Cisco-LinksysMarkets high-end Modems with an average price tag
Zoom TelephonicsIt is a major supplier of broadband Modems in the U.S
NetopiaThe tech company has introduced countless Modem-solutions
RosewillIt sells efficient high-speed Modem devices
CognizantThey are one of the most reputable Modem manufacturers
AOPEN IncTaiwanese tech company that supplies all types of Modems
JCGSells highly-remarkable Modems featuring super-speed
AirtiesIts the best Modem supplier in Turkey

How Much Is A Modem?

Since there are many types of Modems offering different features, there is no fixed price for them. However, for a rough idea, you can pay from $50 to $300 for a Modem according to your internet connection needs. This price bracket covers all types of basic and advanced purpose modern Modems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

Admittedly, Modems have contributed to our digital life as much as the internet itself. The hyper Modems designed for high-speed internet connectivity made it easier for us to access tons of web pages in no time. These Modems have made a drastic change to the way we experience the world of the internet. 

Today, fast and uninterrupted access to an internet connection is impossible without these Modems. Although there are few ways to use internet service without adding Modems to the system, the majority of the internet users still rely on them, and that too for some good reasons.

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Bilal Khan
Bilal Khan

Bilal might look like a Bearded Caucasian right out of a Viking movie but trust me he's a native Pakistani. He has a long list of hobbies among which staying updated on the Latest Technology and Hardware happens to be on the top. If you are looking for detailed hardware explanations through no tricky terminologies, follow him to read Tech Content curated perfectly for the human brain.

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