Baud Barf

What Does Baud Barf Mean?

Baud barf is a term for seemingly random or illegible ASCII characters generated by line noise or other means. These characters would show up on a text screen during the operation of a 1990s-era modem. The term “baud barf” is mostly associated with dial-up Internet situations where computers are telephones are sharing the same phone lines.


Techopedia Explains Baud Barf

In a typical baud barf situation, someone using dial-up Internet was using a computer with a PC-DOS display screen or an early Windows screen. If someone picked up the phone and the line noise came in, it would be represented on the display screen as a series of unreadable characters. This would often go along with a series of noises indicating incoming messages incompatible with the intended use of the interface. People called this baud barf because the screen seemed to “barf up” this useless string of characters.

Like baud modems, baud barf is now mostly a thing of the past. People rarely use dial-up Internet in which computers and telephones share the same lines. Among other advances, the decline of landline telephone systems rendered baud barf an archaic phenomenon.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…