Concept

Hayes Microcomputer Products

Summary
Hayes Microcomputer Products was a U.S.-based manufacturer of modems. The company is well known for the Smartmodem, which introduced a control language for operating the functions of the modem via the serial interface, in contrast to manual operation with front-panel switches. This smart modem approach dramatically simplified and automated operation. Today almost all modems use a variant of the Hayes command set. Hayes was a major brand in the modem market from the introduction of the original 300 bit/s Smartmodem in 1981. They remained a major vendor throughout the 1980s, periodically introducing models with higher throughput. Their competition through this period was primarily from two other high-end vendors, US Robotics and Telebit, while other companies mostly sold into niches or were strictly low-end offerings. In the early 1990s a number of greatly cost-reduced high-performance modems were released by competitors, notably the SupraFAXModem 14400, which eroded price points in the market. Hayes was never able to respond effectively. The widespread introduction of ADSL and cable modems in the mid-1990s repeatedly drove the company in Chapter 11 protection before being liquidated in 1999. Dennis C. Hayes left the Georgia Institute of Technology in the mid-1970s to work at an early data communications company, National Data Corporation, a company that, among its many businesses, handled electronic money transfers and credit card authorizations. Hayes' job was to set up modem connections for NDC's customers. Hayes also worked for a time at Financial Data Sciences, which sold automated teller machines to the savings and loan (S&L) market, modifying machines sold by larger companies to large banks with the branding of the smaller S&L. From this company, he learned the value of selling into niche markets the larger players ignored. Hayes was a computer hobbyist, and felt that modems would be highly compelling to users of the new 8-bit computers that would soon be known as home computers.
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