Is a 56k Modem a Good Match for a Mac IIci?

1998 – DR writes: What kind of modem can I use with my Mac IIci? It has System 7.5.5 and a floppy disk drive (it’s a pretty much stock computer). I’d prefer a 56k modem, if possible. It will be primarily used for Internet access.

I’ve had a tough time trying to buy a modem for it at retail stores . . . no one seems to be very knowledgeable on what I should or shouldn’t buy. I get a lot “well . . . uh . . . this might work.”

Mac Daniel writes: Ah, the too often sorry state of retail sales. I spent several years there, always trying to know more about the equipment than my customers. Alas, some sales persons don’t do the research they should, either before or after a customer raises a question.

The first thing you want to do is find someone who knows the Mac and can answer a few geek questions. (Yes, you found me, but I mean someone in one of your local shops that sells Apple gear.) Then be sure to buy from this person, not just milk him or her for information and order from MacMailOrder.

56k US Robotics modemThat said, the IIci is perfectly capable of supporting a 56k modem. See Macintosh Serial Throughput in the Low End Mac Tech Journal and the No Hype 56k Modem Page for lots of information about modems and throughput.

Although the IIci can work with a 56k modem, keep in mind that all of today’s modems compress data before sending it. The average compression is about 2:1, which means you want a serial port with at least twice the speed of your modem to handle the uncompressed data stream.

The serial port on pre-68040 Macs, including your 68030-based IIci, is normally limited to 57.6 kbps. Using standard Apple software, that means you really won’t gain much by using a 56k modem instead of a 28.8 or 33.6 one. However, FreePPP will let you set the serial port speed. Field reports indicate the IIci can comfortably drive the serial port at 115.2 kbps, making FreePPP a better match for 56k modems than Apple’s own software.

Keywords: #56kmodem #maciici #freeppp

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