Gandalf Technologies

Gandalf Technologies

Gandalf Technologies

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Gandalf Technologies, or simply Gandalf, was an early data communications company, best known for their modems and terminal adaptors that allowed computer terminals to connect to a number of host computers through a single interface. The name Gandalf became synonymous with modem in the Soviet Union and a few other countries. Gandalf also pioneered a radio-based mobile data terminal that was popular for many years in taxi dispatch systems. The rapid rise of TCP/IP relegated many of Gandalf's products to niche status, and the company eventually went bankrupt in 1997.


Gandalf was originally formed by Desmond Cunningham and Colin Patterson (not to be confused with the hockey player of the same name) in 1971, and started business from the lobby of the Skyline Hotel, which is now the Crowne Plaza Hotel, on Albert Street in Ottawa.

The company's first products were industrial-looking half-bridges for remote terminals which were supported by large terminal multiplexers on the "computer end". Gandalf referred to these systems as a "PACX", in analogy to the telephony PABX which provided similar services in the voice field. These systems allowed the user to "dial up" the Gandalf box and then instruct it what computer they wanted to connect to. In this fashion, large computer networks could be built in a single location using shared resources, as opposed to having to dedicate terminals to different machines. These systems were particularly popular...
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