ARCHIVED: What is a winmodem?

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Information here may no longer be accurate, and links may no longer be available or reliable.

Winmodem is a generic term for a modem that uses software in place of hardware for certain functions. In technical terms, winmodems lack an instruction processing chip called a controller; winmodems are also referred to as controllerless modems or host-based modems. Winmodems that also lack a UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter) are referred to as HSP (Host Signal Processor) modems.

The term "Winmodem" is a registered trademark of 3 Com/U.S. Robotics. It was first applied to the U.S. Robotics Sportster line of 33.6Kbps controllerless modems and was later the name for the controllerless 56K Sportster modems as well. But while Winmodem is a registered trademark, most people have accepted the word winmodem as covering both controllerless and HSP modems made by any manufacturer for the Windows platform.

Because winmodems lack a controller and sometimes a UART, they depend on the computer's CPU for these functions. With 486 and Pentium computers, this was a significant amount of processing power taken away from applications. New computer CPUs are powerful enough that this is no longer a problem.

To determine whether the modem you are planning to purchase is compatible with your version of Windows, check the hardware compatibility list at:

This is document aepb in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 12:14:40.