Brent Townshend, 1996

Canadian inventor Dr Brent Townshend created a core concept in 1996 that served as the basis for the 56k modem. This voiceband modem is nominally capable of download speeds of up to 56,000 bits per second. Initially there were two rival modem systems: K56flex and X2. In the late 1990s, 56k modems were the most popular access method for personal Internet usage. We just loved their hissing and beeping sounds. The sounds weren’t a sign that data were being transferred: they were the actual data being transferred. The world was shifting from analog to digital and you could hear it.

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