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TTY In The Computer Age (1984 – 1994)

(1984) Telephone equipment tariffs end, opening them up to competition. Pacific Bell distributes Braille TTYs to deaf-blind consumers. EIA publishes seventh draft of TTY compatibility standards regarding operation with a private-line telephone network providing ASCII in addition to the traditional Baudot codes.

(1985) Krown Research introduces their dual TTY/ASCII modems while Ultratec introduces a low-cost basic TTY. Audiobionics introduces portable synthetic-voice talking TTYs which never caught on. Computer software showing sign language alphabet hand shapes developed. Distribution of free TTYs begin in many states.

(1986) Integrated Microcomputer Systems introduced computers included with internal TTY/ASCII modems. EIA completed ninth draft of TTY compatibility standards as number of manufacturers dwindles. Digital circuits integrated in analog hearing aids.

(1987) Ultratec introduces Intelemodem, their dual TTY/ASCII modem. California opens first statewide, 24-hour, 7 days a week relay service, operated by AT&T – 80,000 calls were made in the first month.

(1988) Ultratec develops TTY payphones for use in airports, schools, and other public places. Selective Technologies develops portable compact TTY for briefcase or purse. DCI DEAFNET e-mail service becomes DEAFTEK offering bulletin board services. DiRAD announces a technology breakthrough allowing interactive menu and voice mail systems to work with standard TTYs in conversational format.

(1989) TTY payphone installed at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Andrew Saks who founded APCOM and pushed for TTY tax deduction passes away. New York State School for the Deaf implements DiRAD’s first fully “TTY Compatible” voice mail system.

(1990) Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) technology emerges, making the use of videophones possible. Portable TTY devices enter the market. Phone-TTY develops CARS-III, an advanced TRS software that allows automated billing, voice pass-through and quicker ASCII connections. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) becomes law, including Title IV, which requires access to telecommunication relay services (TRS) for all Americans with hearing and speech disabilities.

(1991) Phone TTY tests MacIntosh TTY software with its CM-4 modem.

(1992) FUTURA TTY software is released – compatible with Hayes and TTY modems. All states and the District of Columbia establish telecommunication relay services. DiRAD receives two US patents and incorporates a method to insure that both sending and receiving TTYs are in the correct mode, eliminating garbled characters throughout the entire call on its interactive menu systems. AT&T introduces the VideoPhone 2500 featuring motion and full-color video for $1,500, but picture quality was low and blurry.

(1993) Innovations to speed Baudot rates and allow interruptions appear on TTYs. First international payphone TTY call is made from Britain to TDI office. GTE introduces the three-digit 7-1-1 number for relay in Hawaii. Texas Public Utility Commission began discussing the possibility of using video conferencing products for deaf people not only to call each other directly, but also to set up a network of sign language interpreters to relay conversations between deaf and hearing parties.

(1994) Contel develops software so TTY users can access automated voice mail systems. A voluntary V.18 modem standard with Baudot codes was adopted by the European Union, thanks to the efforts of Dick Brandt, chair of the NEC Foundation TTY Standards Project. MCI develops 1st TTY calling card that uses TTY text prompts instead of audio prompts. NEXION introduces the first TTY/ASCII/FAX modems capable of 19200 bps. Ameriphone introduces the first TTY designed for voice carry-over (VCO) users. The National Association of State Relay Administrators (NASRA) is founded.