When I recall my first dial-up connection, I think about the Apple II and CompuServe. But I often overlook the piece of hardware that connected the two: the Apple Personal Modem.
The Apple Personal Modem was a first-party peripheral, matching the color palette and design aesthetic of the Apple IIe I used it with. The modem maxed out at a whopping 1200 bps, which, if I recall, was roughly reading speed — perfect for the all-text interface of CompuServe . The modem dutifully granted me access to the Academic American Encyclopedia (GO AAE ), an invaluable resource for my secondary education.
When we moved houses and upgraded to an Apple IIGS, many other upgrades followed, among them more RAM, a SCSI card, and a faster modem, and then still a faster modem. These years later, I can't tell you the brand or model of those later modems that enabled me to download such games as Plunder and Bouncin' Ferno — but the Apple Personal Modem has remained memorable for its heft, handheld-sized form factor, and unusual power supply, eschewing a power cord or brick in favor of plugging directly into a wall outlet. In fact, it wasn't until I watched this unboxing video  that I discovered there was another model that did not have the inbuilt prong but instead used a more traditional power cord.
I don't know what happened to my Apple Personal Modem; I haven't seen it in decades. Rather than it being buried somewhere in my collection, it more likely was disposed of as soon as it was no longer of practical value.
Recently, a friend who was visiting Apple Rescue of Denver asked me if there was anything I wanted salvaged. Of everything in the store's inventory, I don't know what drew me to the Apple Personal Modem , but as soon as I saw it, I knew we needed to be reunited.
Since I still have those faster modems and even an Uthernet II card , the Apple Personal Modem remains more a curiosity than the connection to the online world that it once represented. But for the reasonable fee of $15, I'm glad to again own this pioneering peripheral.
Now if only I could remember the name of the telecom software  I used with it…