Retro computing hardware is great for playing older games, and perhaps running a useful application or two. However, one might argue that the most interesting use of such a device in its day was to log on to remote computers via a telephone modem. This opened up a whole world of BBSes and other online services. While you may not currently have a land line, you can still access such services using The Old Net’s RS232 Serial WiFi Modem for Vintage Computers V3.
The device adapts an ESP8266-based dev board to an RS232 connector, which interfaces with an older computer as a modem. The standard firmware emulates a Hayes dial-up modem, and allows you to input your network name and password via the terminal to log on to a local WiFi network. You can then connect to remote BBS systems that are now accessible via the web, “dialing” the address instead of an actual telephone line.
In addition to being able to emulate a modem, the device can be flashed with TCP/IP firmware, enabling services such as web browsing, IRC, and FTP on vintage DOS machines. A quick intro to modem emulation is seen in the video below, and a more in-depth explanation of the TCP/IP setup is seen here.