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BLAST (protocol)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLAST (BLocked ASynchronous Transmission), like XMODEM and Kermit, is a communications protocol designed for file transfer over asynchronous communication ports and dial-up modems that achieved a significant degree of popularity during the 1980s.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Reflecting its status as a de facto standard for such transfers, BLAST, along with XMODEM, was briefly under official consideration by ANSI in the mid-80s as part of that organization's ultimately futile attempt to establish a single de jure standard.[9][10]


BLAST grew out of the mission-critical experience of providing air pollution telemetry within the dial-up communications environment of the petroleum belt of southern Louisiana and Texas, with not only noisy telephone lines but also unexpected satellite hops to remote locations.[11][12] As such, BLAST was the only asynchronous protocol to have entered the 1980s computing arena with all of the following features:

BLAST thus gained a reputation as the protocol having the best combination of speed and reliability in its class.[1][2][5][13][14][15][16]

Our tests showed that when connected to a host running BLAST, MacBLAST provides the most error-free and fastest file transfers we've yet seen ... MacBLAST to BLAST never lost data and never blew a connection in our tests.

— Don Crabb, "MacBLAST carves a place for itself in communications applications", MacWEEK (February 21, 1989)


The idea for the BLAST product belongs to Paul Charbonnet, Jr., a former Data General salesman. Its original version was designed and implemented for the Data General line of Nova minicomputers[17][18] by G. W. Smith, a former BorgWarner Research Center systems engineer who, having developed a basic "ack-nak" protocol for the aforesaid telemetry application, now created an entirely new protocol with all of the above-mentioned features, and for which he devised the "BLAST" acronym.[11][19]

This work was performed under contract to AMP Incorporated, of Baton Rouge, LA. However, it was another Baton Rouge company, Communications Research Group (CRG), which was to successfully commercialize the BLAST protocol, and which was also to employ Charbonnet and Smith as, respectively, Sales Director and Vice-president of Research and Development.[11][12]

On the downside, BLAST was criticized by ZMODEM developer Chuck Forsberg because of its proprietary nature, making it "tightly bound to the fortunes of [its supplier]".[20]

Communications Research Group

Communications Research Group (CRG) was a Baton Rouge, Louisiana based company which became a major international vendor of data communications software during the 1980s, and which software had the BLAST protocol at its core.[21][22][11][12]

As representative of one of CRG's mature products, the BLAST-II file transfer software was distinguished by its wide range of features. Beyond supporting the BLAST protocol, it enabled use of the competing XMODEM,[23] encrypted and transmitted data using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and had "versions for about a hundred different micros, minis, and mainframes".[24] Like Columbia University's Kermit software, CRG's BLAST-II also provided a scripting language.[25]

CRG was recognized as one of the 100 largest microcomputer software companies in the United States, and it was ultimately acquired by modem manufacturer U.S. Robotics in 1990, and which company continued to develop and sell BLAST products.[11][12][26][27][28][29]

See also


  1. ^ a b Crabb, Don (February 21, 1989). "MacBLAST carves a place for itself in communications applications" (PDF). MacWEEK. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Staff, Computers in Defence (May 13, 1985). "Maritime Satellite Communications" (PDF). Computers in Defence. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  3. ^ Held, Gilbert (March 1986). "Evaluating microcomputer communications software" (PDF). Data Communications. Retrieved February 16, 2014.
  4. ^ Magidson, Steve (May 15, 1989). "Moving Files Can Be A BLAST" (PDF). UNIX Today. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Package Offers Async Link Between Systems" (PDF). PC Week. February 10, 1987. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Partial Listing of BLAST Users" (PDF). September 1, 1985. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  7. ^ Honig, David A.; Hoover, Kenton A. (1990). Desktop Communications: IBM PC, PS/2 & Compatibles (PDF). Wiley. ISBN 0-471-60613-8. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  8. ^ Held, Gilbert (1991). Understanding Data Communications: From Fundamentals to Networking (PDF). Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-93051-8. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "X12 Guideline, Entry Level, Asynchronous Transmissions" (PDF). December 5, 1985. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "Minutes of Async Sub group of X12C1" (PDF). February 17, 1986. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e Smith, G. W. "Aesthetic Wilderness: A Brief Personal History of the Meeting Between Art and the Machine", Birds-of-the-Air Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9846655-1-8
  12. ^ a b c d Estill, Lyle "Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy", New Society Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-0-86571-603-2
  13. ^ "Xmodems: The right blend?" (PDF). Computerworld. May 13, 1985. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  14. ^ Southerton, Alan (January 1990). "BLAST Rockets Your Data" (PDF). UNIX WORLD. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Charbonnet Jr, Paul; Smith, Glenn (January 18, 1984). "BLASTing the Way to Synchronous Communications" (PDF). Computerworld. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  16. ^ Smith, G. W. & Rubenstein, P. (1984). "The Async Route -- Best Suited for a Microcomputer's Local Traffic". Data Communications.
  17. ^ "Data General Minis Get Blast Software". InfoWorld. March 14, 1988. p. 11. A version of a PC communications software ... Blast II uses multilevel adaptive compression ...
  18. ^ "Network World". March 14, 1988. p. 27. Terminals linked to an MV system running BLAST II are also able to ...
  19. ^ Hall, John (February 18, 1989). "La. Pitches (Soft)wares East" (PDF). The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
  20. ^ "XMODEM/YMODEM Protocol Reference" (PDF). 1988. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  21. ^ Held, Gilbert "Understanding Data Communications: From Fundamentals to Networking", Wiley, 1991. ISBN 978-0-4719305-1-8
  22. ^ Honig, David A. & Hoover, Kenton A. "Desktop Communications: IBM PC, PS/2 & Compatibles", Wiley, 1990. ISBN 0-471-60613-8
  23. ^ "BLAST-II file transfer software". InfoWorld. May 8, 1989. Blast II supports ... Xmodem, ASCII, and ..
  24. ^ "mail.84b".
  25. ^ "Network World". January 25, 1988. p. 52. BLAST II ... script language; menu-driven and bypass; same scripts run on ...
  26. ^ "CRG Staff "Partial Listing of BLAST Users"" (PDF). September 1, 1985. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  27. ^ "Soft-Letter" (PDF). Soft-Letter. April 4, 1985. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  28. ^ "Illinois-based manufacturer purchases Communications Research Group" (PDF). The Advocate. February 6, 1990. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  29. ^ "U.S.Robotics advertisement for BLAST Remote Control". PC Mag. October 13, 1992. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
This page was last edited on 10 February 2021, at 16:34
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