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CompuCom SpeedModem

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The CompuCom SpeedModem was an early high speed modem that implemented a proprietary 9600 bit/s protocol known as the CompuCom Speed Protocol (CSP). Their modems were much less expensive than competing high-speed models, and were well known for a time.[1] The introduction of low-cost standards-based v.32bis modems made the SpeedModem disappear with surprising speed.

Two versions of the SpeedModem were released in 1991, the Champ with an introductory price of $169, and Combo at $279 which added 9,600 bit/s Group III fax support.[2] The modem supported MNP5 data compression and their own format, CSP-3, which they claimed was as effective as v.42bis. For connections to other modems, the SpeedModem supported V.22bis for 2400 bit/s support (as well as 1200 and 300 bit/s support).[2][3]

For reasons that are not recorded in the historical record, the SpeedModem had problems connecting over packet switching networks, which made commercial online service connections problematic.[4] Throughout, the very low price led to many concerns about quality and whether or not it was worth buying a non-standard modem.[4][5]

The SpeedModems came to market shortly before the first v.32bis modems, which ran at 14,400 bit/s. These were initially much more expensive, but the SupraFAXModem 14400 was released in January 1992 at $399, offering even higher performance, complete compatibility with all other modems, and adding a fax capability as well. When Supra's exclusivity over the internal Rockwell International chipset ended, the market was soon flooded with even lower-cost models. CompuCom responded by introducing faster 14.4 and 19.2 kbit/s CSP modems, but they were drowned out in a market flooded with v.32bis.

CompuCom responded with the CompuCom Storm, which added v.32 support, the high-end Challenger series with v.32bis, and finally the lower-cost CompuCom Star, with v.32bis.[6][7] These had little or no price advantage compared to other standards-based modems, and little time in the market before CompuCom Communications went out of business.[8]

One remaining vestige of the system is the "CSP" flag in the FidoNet nodelist file, which indicates the BBS system supports the CSP format.[9]


  1. ^ Kirksey, Kenneth (25 December 1991). "What You Need To Know About Modems". Hundreds of PC-based bulletin board systems have installed the SpeedModem Champ.
  2. ^ a b "Compucom Speedmodem...The Affordable High Speed Modem", CompuCom, 1991
  3. ^ David Coursey, "CompuCom Offers Low-Cost 9,600-BPS Modem", InfoWorld, 1 April 1991, pp. 31
  4. ^ a b Patrick Chen, "Modem Tutorial - Introduction", The Joy of Telecomputing, 25 December 1991
  5. ^ Adam Engst, "El Cheapo Modem" Archived 2012-04-18 at the Wayback Machine, TidBITS, 8 April 1991
  6. ^ Ken Sukimoto, "96INTRO.TXT"
  7. ^ "CompuCom modem blitz is planned for August", InfoWorld, 22 July 1991, p. 40
  8. ^ Bill Karwin, "Modem Standards" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, 8 July 1994
  9. ^ David Nugent, "The Distribution Nodelist", 7 February 1996
This page was last edited on 27 July 2020, at 03:09
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