Hayes Smartmodem


The Hayes Smartmodem is a pioneering modem device, introduced in 1981 by inventor and entrepreneur Dennis Hayes. It revolutionized data communication by integrating a microprocessor, enabling control and communication with computers using the Hayes command set. This innovation established the basis for subsequent modem designs and became a standard in the industry.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Hayes Smartmodem” is: /ˈheɪz ˈsmɑːrt.moʊˈdɛm/.Here it is broken down syllable by syllable: Hay-es Smart-mo-dem(/ˈheɪz/ /ˈsmɑːrt/ /moʊˈdɛm/).

Key Takeaways

  1. Hayes Smartmodem was one of the first modems designed for personal computers, revolutionizing the way users could access and communicate through telecommunications networks.
  2. The Smartmodem’s unique innovation was its use of the “AT” command set, which allowed users to easily control the modem using their computer, granting greater convenience and flexibility than previous modems.
  3. Although Hayes Corporation eventually faced competition and bankruptcy, the Hayes Smartmodem’s impact is still felt today, as its command set went on to become an industry standard and inspired the development of future modems.


The Hayes Smartmodem was a groundbreaking innovation in the early days of personal computing, as it revolutionized the way users connected to remote systems and communicated over long distances.

Introduced in 1981 by Hayes Microcomputer Products, the Hayes Smartmodem established a new standard for simplicity and ease of use in modems, allowing computers to automatically dial telephone numbers and facilitate data transfers.

By incorporating intelligence and control commands, the modem could interact with the computer and network more effectively, significantly streamlining the experience for users.

Its iconic Hayes Command Set became a de facto standard in the industry, shaping the basis for subsequent modems and ultimately paving the way for modern internet connectivity.


The Hayes Smartmodem revolutionized the world of computing and telecommunications during the 1980s by enabling computers to communicate seamlessly with one another over telephone lines. Serving as a key innovation in the field of modems, this intelligent device was designed to convert digital signals from a computer into analog signals that could be transmitted over phone lines, and vice versa – allowing users to access remote systems, exchange files and data, and ultimately, experience an early form of the internet.

The introduction of the Smartmodem played a vital role in driving data communications across various sectors, such as research, government, and businesses, essentially paving the way for the thriving digital communications systems we see today. Hayes Smartmodems were unique devices in their time due to their “intelligent” capabilities, which distinguished them from earlier rudimentary modems that relied on manual intervention for connection establishment and termination.

The built-in control language known as the “Hayes command set,” or “AT commands,” enabled computers to not only initiate and end data connections through simple text commands, but also to exert greater control over the modem’s configurations and parameter settings. This ability to manage modem operations directly through software made the Smartmodem exceptionally user-friendly and versatile.

As a result, it quickly became an industry standard during the early era of personal computing and contributed significantly in laying the groundwork for the present-day interconnected digital world.

Examples of Hayes Smartmodem

The Hayes Smartmodem was a groundbreaking innovation in the world of telecommunications and computer networking during the early 1980s. Here are three real-world examples of how the Hayes Smartmodem impacted technology:

Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) – The advent of the Hayes Smartmodem made it possible for more users to access Bulletin Board Systems. BBSes were early online platforms where users could connect, share messages, files, and play games. Smartmodem’s automatic dialing, answering, and reliable data transmission greatly simplified the process of connecting to BBSes, contributing to these systems’ popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Telecommunications – The Hayes Smartmodem allowed businesses and users to communicate and send data more efficiently. Businesses used Smartmodems to send and receive faxes, access remote databases and services, and engage in data sharing with other business partners. Since the Smartmodem’s Hayes command set was widely adopted in the industry, it established a standard for modem communication. This advancement greatly simplified the process of sending and receiving data electronically.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – The Hayes Smartmodem laid the foundation for the development of dial-up internet service providers. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, dial-up ISPs, such as CompuServe, Prodigy, and America Online, began to emerge. These services relied on the use of modems for users to connect to the internet through existing telephone lines. The Hayes Smartmodem was a critical component in the evolution of the internet, as its design and the widespread adoption of the Hayes command set helped create the infrastructure necessary for the early growth of the World Wide Web.

Hayes Smartmodem FAQ

What is a Hayes Smartmodem?

A Hayes Smartmodem is a popular brand of modems developed by Hayes Microcomputer Products. It was first introduced in the early 1980s and featured a unique command set that was widely adopted as a de facto standard in the modem industry.

What is the Hayes command set?

The Hayes command set, also known as the “AT command set,” is a specific command language used by Hayes Smartmodems to configure and control the modem’s operation. The command set uses plain text commands prefixed with the letters “AT,” which stands for “Attention.” This command set is also used by many other modems to this day.

What were the speed capabilities of Hayes Smartmodems?

The original Hayes Smartmodem 300 had a maximum speed of 300 bits per second (bps). As technology progressed, newer models were introduced with higher speeds, such as the 1200 bps Smartmodem 1200 and the 2400 bps Smartmodem 2400, eventually reaching 56 kbps with the Smartmodem 56K.

What types of connections did Hayes Smartmodems support?

Hayes Smartmodems supported both dial-up and leased line connections, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. With a dial-up connection, the modem could dial a telephone number to connect to another modem or a bulletin board system (BBS). A leased line connection allowed for a dedicated, always-on connection between two modems.

What is the Hayes-compatible modem?

A Hayes-compatible modem is a modem that is designed to be compatible with the Hayes Smartmodem’s command set. These modems use the same or similar commands as the Hayes Smartmodem, making them easy to use with existing software and systems designed for Hayes Smartmodems.

Related Technology Terms

  • Serial communication
  • AT commands
  • RS-232 connection
  • Data transmission
  • Error correction protocols

Sources for More Information


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