In 1982 personal computers had just arrived and Chris Howells saw the potential of getting computers to 'talk' to each other. He and two technicians made an equipment interface to link small Apple computers to mainframe IBM computers - and Apple bought the worldwide marketing rights to it. Howells saw even greater potential in producing a modem for Apple's new computer, the Macintosh. Modems modulate digital data (turn it into analog signals) for transfer over phone lines and demodulate analog signals back into digital ones. So he bought a modem the size of a shoebox and pulled it apart to see how it worked. Then he started making his own and established the NetComm company. A string of Australian-designed, faster and smaller modems with better features led to the first SmartModem, released in 1985. By 1992, superfast SmartModems using surface-mount technology were amongst the smallest and most reliable in the world.