The Dial-Up Modem
For some folks, the modem is still a means of getting on the Internet. The thought is somewhat tragic, given that most of us connect wirelessly via smartphones or though a broadband connection.
When the Internet entered our houses back in the 90s, consumers were subjected to 14.4 Kb/s dial-up speeds, a snail's pace by today's standards. Yet, the Internet wasn't loaded down with annoying waves of Flash and hi-res images. Still, connections were never guaranteed, and a 3MB file could take hours to download (if the modem actually stayed online to complete the transfer).
Eventually, enthusiasts saw higher speeds towards the end of the decade, moving from 28.8 Kb/s to current 56 Kb/s, FCC-locked dial-up speeds. Modems were also a real pain to control in the Windows 95 and (pre-SE) Windows 98 environment, sometimes requiring users to juggle IRQ and DMA settings so that the device could play nice with the other installed equipment (then again, that was prevalent with any additional PCI card).
That's really not the case now, thanks to a smarter operating system. Still, back then, the hardware fight could lead to a PCI card flying out the window.