Upcoming 37th Anniversary of Packet Radio

At around 9PM on May 31, 1978 were the first KNOWN transmissions of Packet over Amateur Radio. The location was Bill Wong’s Restaurant in Montreal, Canada.

The Montreal Packet Net Group C/O:

Bob Rouleau VE2PY; Norm Pearl VE2BQS; Fred Basserman VE2BQF; Bram Frank VE2BFH; Jacques Orsali VE2EP; Ted Baleshta VE3CAF; Ian Hodgson VE2BEN; among others not mentioned.

They operated on a single 220Mhz channel using start-stop ASCII with the Ethernet CSMA/CD protocol. The protocol was modified for amateur applications by Robert T. Rouleau, VE2PY, and implemented by Fred Basserman, VE2BQF. Montreal Packet Net (MP-Net) Operated at 2400 bit/s using home-built modems.

A detailed description of the Montreal Protocol and hardware used in the experiments is given in the TAB book #1345 “PACKET RADIO” by Bob Rouleau and Ian Hodgson published in 1981. An interesting note is that the Montreal Modem design used the Exar XR-2206/2211 chip set. I am told that a sample of the Montreal Modem was sent to the Vancouver group (VADCG) in the fall of 1978 and it is probably no coincidence that the same chip set appeared in the TAPR TNC modem of which Doug Lockhart of VADCG had a hand in designing.

After an initial spurt of activity in amateur packet, Bob Rouleau and several others in the group turned to commercial applications for packet radio. The resulting company, DATARADIO Inc, today is building and marketing commercial packet radio systems around the world. A typical application is the Canadian Weather Radio packet service introduced some years ago using DATARADIO equipment specially designed for the application.

Bob was inducted in the CQ Magazine Amateur Radio Hall of Fame in 2003.

Jack, W4JBR, is a special contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Georgia, USA.

4 Responses to “Upcoming 37th Anniversary of Packet Radio”

  • Jack W4JBR:

    I worked as Senior Project Manager for Dataradio for 9 years until it was sold to CalAmp in 2007.
    Dataradio was the leader in the field of private radio data interchange. The company outfitted many police departments, ambulance services, fire, 911 centers and other first responders with the first 43 kilobit data systems and the only company offering “Gemini” technology (an enhanced form of diversity).
    As a privately held company, Dataradio was uniquely able to not only develop our own technology but with their diversified manufacturing capabilities provide a completely engineered system including base stations, mobiles and integration with most of the major 911 software suppliers.
    With the loss of funding programs such as “cops and more” and other federal initiatives the private radio systems began to give way to using cellular technologies for data backbone, base to mobile encrypted communications.
    Dataradio continues today offering telemetry products, broadband cellular routers and gateways as well as narrowband private systems.

  • Bram Frank, VE2BFH:

    Note that Dataradio Inc. was sold in 2006 to a US corporation and none of the original group members is associated with whatever remains of the original entity. No reference to Dataradio, as a brand name can be found on the present owners’ web site.

  • ve7vie:

    I was not involved at the time, but my understanding is that the Vancouver group had much more to do with the development of packet radio than is indicated here.

    73, Barry
    VE7VIE/WV2J

  • Jack Ray W4JBR:

    This article (originally published on the anniversary) and a tribute to Bob’s induction into the CQ Hall of Fame was not intended to be a history of Packet Radio..Rather an on air celebration with the Dataradio Radio club station running contacts on the ham bands.
    I am quite sure that the Montreal group could shed light on the development and advancement of Amateur Packet as well as the continued commercial development of which I am proud to have played a very minor part.

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