PARTS 3 & 4- Tech Atlanta History: Dennis Hayes/Hayes Microcomputer Products

Dennis Hayes is our inaugural technology leader from the past. Dennis’ company, Hayes Microcomputer Products, was unquestionably the leading modem/telecom company in Atlanta for over a decade, and Dennis built one of the most powerful companies in the microcomputer market. Below are Parts 3 and 4 of our interview with Dennis, where he discusses marketing from an entrepreneur’s perspective and the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial experience. Hope you enjoy our video interview and look forward to bringing you future installments of our Atlanta tech leadership series.

Parts 1&2

Parts 5&6


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Mid 1970s- Hayes leaves GA Institute of Technology to set up modem connections for early data communications company, National Data Corp, a company that handles electronic money transfers and credit card authorizations.

1977 – Hayes begins producing internal modems that plug directly into the computer’s motherboard, a product aimed at the microcomputer hobbyist market, with friend Dale Heatherington. They demonstrate their first product, the 80-103 A, to the quickly growing Atlanta Area Microcomputer Hobbyist Club.[1] The new business marks the beginning of the trend that leads to the PC market.

1978 – Dennis Hayes, after leaving NDC in October of 1977, forms D.C. Hayes Associates. Dale Heatherington and five others join the company in the following months.

1979 – Hayes introduces the 300 bit/s Micromodem 100 for S-100 bus computers and the Micromodem II for the Apple II, which uses an external “microcoupler” to connect to telephone lines using the new part 68 modular connector that has become common place today but had not been used for modems before.

1980- The company changes its name to Hayes Microcomputer Products, under which it operates for most of its history, and moves to Norcross, GA.

1981- Hayes introduces new design, the Smartmodem, housed in an extruded aluminum case sized to allow a standard desktop telephone to rest on top. It was the first modem integrating complete control over the phone line, allowing it to be used in the same fashion with any computer[2] .

1982 – Hayes introduces the Bell 212-compatible Smartmodem 1200 for $699. It is the first practical all-in-one 1200 bit/s Bell 212-compatible modem. Hayes is one of few modem companies with the capital and engineering wherewithal to develop entirely new modem architectures.

Mid 1980s – Demand grows rapidly as Smartmodem is the only truly “universal” modem available to the public; Hayes soon becomes a market leader.

1984 – Hayes opens an office in Singapore.

1984- Heatherington retires from the company.

1984 – Hayes Microcomputer Products receives Computer System News 10 Best Private Companies award.

1985 – Hayes introduces v.22bis Smartmodem 2400 at US$549.

1985 – Hayes officially patents new “guard time” concept. This “Modem With Improved Escape Sequence With Guard Time Mechanism” is generally referred to as the “Hayes ’302 patent”.

1987- Competition drives prices rapidly downward as modems increasingly become a commodity item.

1987 – Hayes responds to the U.S. Robotics (USR) and Telebit faster modems with the 9600 bit/s “Ping-Pong” protocol, later renamed “Express 96?, designed to fill a short term need in the market until the full duplex could be cost reduced to the point that it could sell in the PC Modem market.

1985-1990s – Hayes continues efforts to produce consumer-ready ISDN “modems” with the hope of becoming a widespread standard. By the early 1990s, this was a major focus of the company.

1991- Hayes introduces v.32bis model, the Smartmodem Ultra 144.

1995 – Hayes sells 49% of the company to Nortel and a Singapore-based venture capital firm.

1997 – Despite efforts, ISDN modems fail to become new standard. Company merges with Access Beyond, a builder of ISP rack-mount modems and terminal servers, and changes company name to Hayes Communications.

1999 – Zoom Technologies purchases Hayes Communications. Zoom continues to use the Hayes name on some of their products.

[1] Levinson, S.M. “Innovation Spells Success:

Pacesetting companies pierce the future with bright plans.” InfoWorld Weekly, April 29th, 1985.

[2] “Hayes MicroComputer Products”, Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia.