30 years of dialup CompuServe

On September 24, 1979, the world’s first dialup provider CompuServe began work. In those days, digital content did not exist, so the provider had to create it himself. For example, CompuServe has contracted with newspapers to provide their content digitally. That’s what an online news service looked like back in 1981 at a speed of 300 bps.
By 1982, the information package included more than ten of the largest American newspapers, including The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

It all started in 1969, when Compu-Serve was created, later CompuServe, it specialized in leasing processor time through dialup for commercial enterprises. The innovative business turned out to be very successful, and ten years later, the owners of the company expanded their scope of activity. In 1979, they launched a similar service called MicroNET for individuals. This was a very risky step, because in those days personal computers were still a curiosity.

On September 24, 1979, MicroNET envelopes began to be sold in stores of the Radio Shack network. The service was unexpectedly successful. Perhaps due to the bestseller of that time – the new Tandy Model 100 miniature personal computers with a built-in 300 baud modem. The modem was very useful.

In 1980, MicroNET was renamed CompuServe Information Service.

The hit service that brought CompuServe to a new level was not a news service at all, but a chat. The so-called “CB Simulator” was launched in 1980 and became the first real-time text chat program in the world. Very soon, CB Simulator captured 20% of all the time that users spent online. Here is an ad from the time promoting online parties.
Soon CompuServe launched various additional services: real-time stock quotes, weather forecasts (with downloadable maps), communication forums, and even online booking of airline tickets. And of course, email, which has become another hit.

The email addresses in CompuServe were a strange set of numbers in octal, separated by commas, for example, 77241,443. With the advent of the Internet, this address looked like [email protected], and all CompuServe users have been storing such addresses for many years.

In early 1981, 10,000 people were using CompuServe services. By the mid-90s, the bill had already gone into the millions, and mass service began to bring more money to the company than the corporate direction.

The golden age of CompuServe was in the early 90s, when they were the largest and most famous online service in the United States. However, the text interface and per-minute payment became an easy target for competitor AOL (America OnLine). It provided a beautiful graphical interface and a very low monthly subscription fee for unlimited use. With the help of aggressive marketing (mailing millions of CD-ROMs with their software, and each disk included a certain number of free hours), AOL service quickly gained popularity and ousted CompuServe to the side of the story.

CompuServe also later introduced a subscription fee and anlim, but it was too late. However, after several years, both of these information services fell before the advent of the “big Internet” and Internet providers who offered access to the Network, while CompuServe and AOL subscribers did not have such access.

After much anguish, the dialup provider CompuServe was sold to AOL, which even tried to sell this information package until now. Only on June 30, 2009, the legendary CompuServe Classic service was finally closed, a little short of its 30th anniversary. However, the CompuServe brand still sells unlimited dialup access for $ 18 per month.