I just came across a great article on the Atlantic Monthly’s web site entitled The Mechanics and Meaning of That Ol' Dial-Up Modem Sound. It’s a well written and fascinating article that explains what was happening (or, what is happening for those who may actually still use a dial up modem – is that even possible?) during that cacophonous yet oddly alluring sound that would take place when a modem would “piggyback on an analog telephone network”.
It’s also worth the read just to hear that sound again. At times, that same sound would once be the bane of my sanity when trying to get online back in the 90’s. If done successfully - and the sound went through it’s predictable song of clicks, beeps and buzzes - then it was smooth sailing like an effortless merge onto a busy highway. When it didn’t work – that dropped connection “klunk” sound would prove wildly frustrating.
Read the article for old time’s sake, but if you’re simply curious, or pressed for time, and you can recall the sound from your memory banks without having to hear it anew, then you may appreciate this info-graphic that explains the process step by step through the sound….