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Featuring Dennis Hayes by Bob Talmadge

Dennis Hayes made lots of modems. He was the first and he was the best. Dennis Hayes was one of the giants. His company, Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc., dominated the market for PC modems in the 1980s and early 1990's when he introduced the Hayes command set. A modem, short for modulator-demodulator, would turn data into tones, then send those tones along the telephone line, so an analog system could mimic a digital one.

As modems approached the 64,000 bit/second speed level, in the early 1990s, Hayes wanted to move data faster. But Dennis Hayes was deeply involved in a new project he called ISDN, an all-digital system. It was faster than modems and it was very cool. But in order to get to ISDN, Hayes needed the cooperation of the Bell companies. They promised cooperation, time and again. Like leaches with dirty laundry, the Bell companies lied and cheated Dennis Hayes. And this was an American tragedy. Yes, they said they were committed to Hayes project. But Dennis waited and waited. He bet the company on ISDN.

Dennis Hayes

Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1950, Hayes originally considered an alternative to cable TV, ADSL offered 1.5 Mbps downloads and 384 kbps uploads, while sharing the line with your phone. But by the time ADSL became a player, Hayes was bankrupt, gone, out of business by 1998. The moral: don’t ever trust a Bell company. Don’t bet on a Bell company fulfilling its promises. Ever. But that’s just what the USA is doing, right now. Once again the Bell companies have made promises. FIOS, Lightspeed. They have made these promises for 10 years. They have reneged on all their earlier promises, and before they meet these (or claim to meet them) they demand, not only a monopoly on their lines, but control of the Internet itself.

  • 1978 -- Dennis C. Hayes and partner Dale Heatherington, working on Hayes’ dining room table, develop first personal-computer modem and formed a company.
  • 1985 -- Hayes annual sales hit $120 million as popularity of home computers grows.
  • 1988 -- Hayes and first wife Melita divorce after six years of marriage.
  • 1994 -- Hayes Microcomputer files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
  • 1996 -- Company emerges from Chapter 11.
  • 1997 -- Company merges with Access Beyond of Gaithersburg, Md.
  • 1998 -- Hayes Corp. files for Chapter 11.
  • 1999 -- January 6, Hayes shuts down Its operations.
  • 1999 -- April. 7, Zoom Telephonics Acquires Hayes Modem Assets Source: Hayes Corp
Dennis Hayes, The Early Years

D.C. Hayes Associates was founded on a dining room table in Hayes' home, where he started with a modest $5000 investment and boot-strapped the company to become the leader in the industry. The first products were modem boards for the S-100 bus and then for the Apple II computers. Solving the interface problems to allow any computer using a standard serial port to control the modem functions with software, he invented the Hayes Standard AT command set introducing the first PC modem in June 1981.

The Hayes Smartmodem quickly became the standard by which modem compatibility was measured and the company grew rapidly. In more than twenty years as Chairman of Hayes, he led the company as a visionary who saw the opportunity for the development of PC communications and the virtual workplace.

After successfully guiding the company through a merger that resulted in a new, publicly-owned Hayes Corporation, Dennis C. Hayes retired as Chairman in late1998 to pursue other industry interests, among these his chairmanship of the Association of Online Professionals.

A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Hayes is also active in other community and industry associations. He served as a founder and Co Chair of the Public Policy Committee of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association, Founding Chairman of the Georgia High Tech Alliance, and founding Board Member of the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology. Hayes is one of four initial inductees into Georgia's Technology Hall of Fame. He currently is Chairman of the Association of Online Professionals, which merged with the US Internet Industry Association, where he is an officer and owner of the Whiskey Rock bar in suburban Atlanta.