Review - Hayes Smartmodem 1200


5923 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Norcross, GA 30092

by Tony Messina

I have received many calls and letters over the past several months inquiring into my whereabouts (or lack thereof) in the pages of ANALOG Computing. You see, friends, I have been heavily involved with substances, materials and other items which have reduced my brain to what looks like a blob of smouldering jello. No, it's not what you think. Actually, I have been locked away in a lab for the past six months, tasked with interfacing a variety of computers via a telecommunications link. I have been successful, and the task is done.

What does this have to do with my review? Well, the piece of hardware which made my task much easier than anticipated was the Hayes Smartmodem 1200. Those of you who have not read Charles Bachand's article on modems elsewhere in this issue should read it before proceeding. If you already know what a modem is and how it works, then let's talk about the Hayes Smartmodem 1200.

What's a Smartmodem 1200?

The Hayes Smartmodem 1200 (I'll refer to it as HS1200 from this point on) allows your computer to access the outside world via the telephone lines. So what, you say, that's what they all do! Correct, but the HS1200 is one heck of a souped-up way to do it. Many modems allow operation at 300 baud, while others allow 1200 baud. The HS1200 allows both and is restricted only by the baud rate of the device with which you are communicating. In addition the HS1200 is very "smart," hence its name.

How smart is it?

I'll address the above question by first describing what is behind the intelligence of this modem. The HS1200 has an internal Z8 (not Z80) microprocessor. Along with this, the real "brains" behind the operation is a 4K ROM controller program. What does this 4K ROM allow you to do? The program allows the modem to communicate with either you or the computer. This modem can be given commands and will answer you with either English replies or numbers. There are too many commands to discuss, but the most important commands are:

  1. A -> Answer the phone.
  2. A/ -> Repeat the last command given (it remembers).
  3. D(TP) -> Dial the phone (touch or pulse dial).
  4. H -> hang up the phone.

This is a very brief list, but it gives you an idea of the capabilities the modem has. The commands usually have parameters which are sent along with the command. For example, to dial a phone number one would send the modem AT (attention modem) DT 1-401-845-7742 (Dial the number touch-tone dialing 1-401-845-7742). Without the explanation, the command would be ATDT 1-401-845-7742. Upon receipt the modem would "pick up the phone" and dial the number listed. Actually, with this modem you do not need a telephone at all! Everything is built inside the unit. The wire coming out of the wall connects directly to the modem.

[Picture of Hayes Smartmodem] Hayes Smartmodem 1200

There are actually two states that the modem can be in. COMMAND state allows you to send commands to the modem (nothing goes across the telephone lines). ON-LINE state is automatically entered when the modem detects a carrier signal and hooks into the remote computer, or when the modem answers the telephone and then allows another computer to hook into it. You may have noticed that I said that the modem answers the phone. This is another feature commonly called AUTO-ANSWER. The modem can be programmed to answer the phone on the number of rings specified (1-255). This can be useful for running a bulletin board, having your computer waiting for you to call from a remote location or zapping a crank caller with a carrier signal they don't expect. One question which probably comes to mind: If I don't need a phone with the modem, how do I know what is occurring on the line when I dial a BBS or remote computer? The modem is equipped with an internal speaker and allows you to monitor the call. The modem does not have a microphone, so you cannot talk to anyone while it is connected.


Although I have been rambling on about how smart the HS1200 is, there are a few items I forgot to mention. You must write the programs to control it or to send it commands, if you want to control it automatically. Don't be frightened away, because this is where we discuss the documentation.

The HS1200 owner's manual is one of the nicest I have seen. It contains 48 pages of no-nonsense information, along with eight appendices to help you with anything from RS-232 Pin assignments to hooking up the modem for use with an amateur radio. Everything you need to know about setting up and operating the modem is in here. There are even pseudo-programs to show you how to do control the modem from your computer. These can easily be converted to BASIC, or whatever language you are familiar with.

Many companies sell you a product and then leave you on your own. Not so with Hayes. Any problems will be handled in a professional and timely manner via their customer service line.

Is this for you?

I did want to mention that this modem may not be for you. You may have noticed that the list price is a bit overwhelming. Careful shopping can yield prices between $400-$500. Those of you who only intend to telecommunicate on an occasional basis may not find use for many of the modem's features. If you plan on running a bulletin board or want to take advantage of the many fine programs available which specifically support the HS 1200, then it is definitely worth your while.

The HS1200 is considered the ultimate in high speed, affordable modems. I can personally vouch for the reliability of the HS 1200. Within our organization we have three HS1200's. All of them have been running twelve hours a day, five days a week for the past two and a half years. One malfunction occurred which caused the modem to be shipped back to Hayes. The modem was returned within three days and is back on-line. Considering the alternatives, I would not want to sacrifice this kind of reliability and service in order to save a few dollars.

Previous | Contents | Next

Original text copyright 1984 by ANALOG Computing. Reprinted with permission by the Digital ANALOG Archive.