July 3, 2009 11:02 PM   Subscribe

After 30 years of operation, Compuserve Information Service has shut down.

Although Compuserve the brand lives on in a newer incarnation and as a dialup internet service provider, the service which was shut down Wednesday was the original: in recent years called 'Compuserve Classic,' it had its origins back in 1979 as a consumer-oriented sideline to Compuserve's core commercial offerings. Claimed to be the "first service to offer electronic mail capabilities" and "the first online service to offer real-time chat online," at its peak in 1995 it had more than three million members, each paying hourly rates to access the service. At least a few people were still using it, and Compuserve has indicated that members can continue to use their CIS user IDs to receive email through a newer interface.
(Via HN)
posted by Kadin2048 (71 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I guess Compuserve was essentially the internet for rich people back in the day. $10/hr was waay too much for me when I was in the states in the 80s, making less than that with my P/T jobs.

Compuserve came to Japan in the late 80s and as NIFTY-Serve was my gateway to the internet when I first went online in 1994. Forget how much I was spending (bit it was a lot); the DECWRL gateway access was the main attraction, before I learned enough to join the mainstream internet population the following year.
posted by @troy at 11:12 PM on July 3, 2009

Aw. My first online access was through Compuserve. I had no idea they were still around. RIP.
posted by painquale at 11:16 PM on July 3, 2009


Though it always surprises me when I hear news like this - I assumed that they were already long gone.
posted by wsp at 11:19 PM on July 3, 2009

No. You meant to say that AOL has shut down.


*pulls out a .357 Magnum, cocks the hammer, aims*

posted by loquacious at 11:20 PM on July 3, 2009 [14 favorites]

Had it. Used it. Paid too much by the flippin' minute. I had a program that would queue up all my messages, check my forums and and upload my replies as fast as possible. It was great, in it's time. But so were eight track tapes.

Really though, there were actual communities there. I was very active in the National Press Photographers Association forum. I just realized that, ironically, the newspaper industries fate has pretty much paralleled Compuserve's. Oh well.....
posted by cccorlew at 11:23 PM on July 3, 2009

I was on GEnie, not compuserve.. same deal, though.
posted by empath at 11:30 PM on July 3, 2009

I paid for Compuserve before I paid for AOL before I paid for Earthlink before I went broke and used NetZero (before I had to pay for it) before I got Bundled Cable Internet that I have no idea how much of the $100+ I pay Charter monthly is. Ah, digital memories.


posted by wendell at 11:34 PM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by RichardP at 11:44 PM on July 3, 2009 [14 favorites]

posted by loquacious at 11:47 PM on July 3, 2009 [16 favorites]

Oh well, I guess?

I'm honestly shocked they survived this long.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:57 PM on July 3, 2009

I won't miss it much. It was just too expensive to be of much value to me when I was young, and even with the special package to download and read things offline, it wasn't all that great.

For me, at least, Compuserve was something you used, it wasn't something you loved.
posted by Malor at 11:59 PM on July 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

When will these celebrities stop dying? There is too much pain in the world.
posted by bigmusic at 12:02 AM on July 4, 2009 [11 favorites]

posted by hattifattener at 12:13 AM on July 4, 2009

Someone we know still has a Compuserve e-mail address. Couldn't believe it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:13 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

long live octal email!
posted by 3mendo at 12:26 AM on July 4, 2009

cccorlew: That must have been TAPCIS, right?
posted by DanSachs at 12:42 AM on July 4, 2009

posted by infini at 12:44 AM on July 4, 2009

I was on GEnie, not compuserve.. same deal, though.

What? I'll... pretend... you didn't just say that.

GEnie SFRT was one of the greatest discussion forums ever online.
posted by Justinian at 12:46 AM on July 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was on SFRT, I remember.
posted by empath at 12:53 AM on July 4, 2009

I was like 16 or 17 at the time.
posted by empath at 12:54 AM on July 4, 2009

Me too. I think I joined GEnie at 15.
posted by Justinian at 12:55 AM on July 4, 2009

posted by TwelveTwo at 1:30 AM on July 4, 2009

Back in my day, we wore a 1200 Baud modem on our belts, it was the style of the times.

Seriously though, forums were good, but couldn't afford the service as a wee lad after using up a couple hours of promo time.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:51 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I made a million friends on the trivia channel of CB and paid a million dollars a month to do so and I'm glad. I'm still in touch with a lot of those folks.

My first C$ bill arrived in 1985 and it was more than my paycheck.

posted by OneOliveShort at 2:02 AM on July 4, 2009


RIP 103223,3212

That was the last of several CompuServe--I must pause and compliment the fact that Firefox doesn't mark CompuServe as misspelled--logins I had and it was my most profitable. When WinCIM 3.0(?) came out, they had GO GUIDE which would send you a WinCIM user's guide and a coupon for $25 in premium usage credit. (Incidentally, I used more than a couple bucks worth of premium charges by sending myself and others real letters in the mail through CompuServe) I quickly figured out there was no upper limit on this offer, so I requested something like 25 of these. Three weeks went by, and right about the time I thought they wouldn't arrive, a large box was delivered by UPS.

I was probably 13 at the time, so I sat there at the desk my grandfather made for me and wrote out (no, I wasn't clever enough to figure out how to get my Okidata dot matrix printer to do it for me) each form, then sent them all off in a large clasp envelope. After two weeks of anticipation, I logged in and got the mail confirming that several hundred dollars worth of credit had been posted to my account.

Oh my god. I went nuts. I'd stay on for hours, and even dial in using the premium high speed lines (14.4kbps, I believe) that cost twice the usual hourly rate, and prowled all over GO ZIFFNET. There wasn't a premium service I didn't tinker with. (Stock quotes? For a 13 year old?) The kicker? When I canceled about 4 months later, I still got a cash refund back of over $300 for my "unused credit balance."
posted by fireoyster at 2:57 AM on July 4, 2009 [31 favorites]


Wow, they survived this long.
posted by cavalier at 4:34 AM on July 4, 2009

Aw, CompuServe was my introduction to the online world. I was 13 or 14, and initially connected with a 300 baud modem on an Apple IIe, then 1200 baud (much begged-for Christmas present -- OMG, it was SO FAST!).

Suspecting (correctly) that I was gay, I spent a lot of time in a human sexuality forum and, when I was old enough to be let in (14, I believe), in a gay youth forum. Coming out years later was still a difficult process, but I'm sure it would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn't had those early online experiences.

Oh, and I also submitted this poem I wrote for an English class to a sci-fi forum. Someone liked the poem and wanted to use it for this project that involved a live public performance of assembling and printing a zine in a very short amount of time. I had no idea what that meant at the time, and I never got a copy of whatever was or wasn't produced, but it definitely helped lift my depressive, trapped in the bible-belt, teenage spirits.

Thank you, CompuServe.
posted by treepour at 5:35 AM on July 4, 2009 [5 favorites]

Compuserve was expensive and text-only and all of that, but in many ways I preferred to the wild world wide web. One thing that made a big difference was that most people used their real names. I can only remember one guy in my circle that regularly used a nickname. Say what you will, it made a difference. I remember talking directly to people who went on to much bigger things later on, like a just-starting-out Michael Dell, various authors, actors and so on.

I used to hang out in the Travel Forum mostly, which was filled with people with wanderlust, not surprisingly, and we used to have meetups, which we called bashes, all the time, everywhere. Big gatherings of 30, 40, 50 people, all strangers yet knowing each other. I remember a dim sum meal we had once at the now-long gone HSF on 32nd and 2nd Avenue in NYC. Going in a zillion taxis to see the Improv as a group and taking over the audience questions. The interpersonal dramas and hookups. You young'uns think it started with the WWW, well it didn't. We had just as rich an online life via 300 to (gasp, fast!) 2400 baud modems and scrolling white screen on blue.

I almost went broke paying the fees too; it was my 2nd biggest expense after my rent for a short while before I figured out ways around it (such as becoming a SysOp). By the time they instituted a flat monthly charge, I was moving on.

Oh yes, and I met my future husband via Compuserve.

posted by thread_makimaki at 5:48 AM on July 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

(white text on blue. Oh, just like MeFi actually!)
posted by thread_makimaki at 5:51 AM on July 4, 2009


(those were the first 3 characters I ever sent to another computer -- the "attention" signal for the CompuServe network. getting the login prompt back in return was about the coolest thing ever.)
posted by FishBike at 6:14 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Before there was CompuServe, there was The Source.

My first employer looked at The Source, and saw that it was good, and set about creating a local equivalent. He called it The Australian Source, and it was the first project I ever got paid for programming on.

Reader's Digest got wind of The Australian Source, and told my employer that if that's what his service was called when it went live they'd sue his socks off. So he changed the name to The Australian Beginning. It started off doing rather less than what he said it would do, and went downhill from there.

The system was hosted on a Data General Eclipse minicomputer (called a "mainframe" in all the publicity material) and written in DG Business BASIC (not a compiled language). There was a rack of about a dozen 300 baud modems. The host-side developers always used in-house 9600 baud connections, and never actually used the system at 300 baud - and the result was a clunky nested menu structure whose pages took ages to repaint at 300. Even at 9600 bps, though, Business BASIC made the whole thing fairly sluggish.

We had our own terminal programs for Apple II and Tandy TRS-80 clients, featuring a file download protocol that I designed. We couldn't use XMODEM because (a) neither the Apple nor the Tandy ran CP/M, meaning that XMODEM's 128-byte rounding of file lengths was problematic and (b) the DG minicomputer's modem I/O and BASIC string handling was not 8-bit clean and (c) what's XMODEM?. Buried in the download protocol was a bit stuffing technique that would have worked more like uuencode if I'd ever seen uuencode. If I recall correctly, I actually wrote a bit of DG assembly code to deal with that encoding on the host side as well as doing the 6502 version on the Apple.

We had three or four people working on the client side, frantically adapting games from 100 BASIC Computer Games for Apple II and TRS-80 just so that there was actually something to download.

I was terribly proud of our do-nothing information service, and remember being quite miffed when the Microcomputer Club of Melbourne set up its own BBS with one competent guy working on the software rather than an enthusiastic but essentially clueless team, and made something ten times as useful with only the club membership fee to get access and no hourly charges.

I don't believe The Australian Beginning ever made money. In that regard, it was ahead of its time.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 AM on July 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

I was 76177,42 on Compuserve. For the time it was a great service. Using CIM, you could traverse complex forum threads easily, and I remember getting into a discussion about word processors with someone who (I later found out) was a programmer at Claris. I also wasted an inordinate amount of time on CB Simulator.

Compuserve handled the first Internet e-mail I ever sent or received. Back in '91, I had a client in Japan that (even at that early date) demanded that all his contractors communicate with him via the Internet. I did some poking around and learned that CS had a gateway that I think was piped through the University of Ohio. It felt very exotic sending e-mail to a different system. I had to reformat my address and tack on @compuserve.com at the end, and wonder about all the computers and networks and stuff that would handle it and possibly mung the text before it reached its destination. If e-mailing can have a sense of adventure about it, that did.

I gave up my CS account in '94 or thereabouts, but it was valuable in its day.
posted by adamrice at 6:40 AM on July 4, 2009

I didn't get online until like '95. There were no local ISP's (yay rural America!), and the closest provider was a 45 min. drive away.

Our family friend who was tech savvy brought us a bunch of pamphlets of various online services -- Apple's e-town or whatever, Prodigy, GEnie, AOL (of course) and Compuserve. He had Compuserve. We went with that.

When we first signed up I had an external 9600 modem with our 286 computer (didn't get a pentium until a year later when my Dad won 25k on slot machines -- I hesitate to think how much he spent to get that 25k over the years!)

I ended up owing my dad 300 bucks for the month of December's bills (this was when I was working at Taco Bell making low money (5 something/hour, IIRC) I was stunned when I saw the long distance charges PLUS the Compuserve charges.

It was my introduction to the big world of online interaction. I remember we could have internet access, and using USENET, and then the AOL people finally were allowed on and everyone felt it all went downhill once AOL was let outta the gates.

I remember meeting a lot of alt.music.christian.rock people (or whatever the hell it was) through there, and eventually meeting them at Cornerstone Festival. Funny, I ended up losing touch with a lot of people after meeting IRL. Even if they were cool...

Fond memories of the people I met. Not so fond memories of the fees!

I, too, am surprised that it was still around. I thought AOL actually bought them out at one point?

Also me=no longer xian thank non-god :P

RIP Compuserve!
posted by symbioid at 6:48 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

CS's biggest mistake was not selling out when they could, pre 2001.
posted by stbalbach at 6:48 AM on July 4, 2009

everyone felt it all went downhill once AOL was let outta the gates.

No worries, they've all been rounded up into the Facebook holding pen.
posted by stbalbach at 6:51 AM on July 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

75301,107 It was a good place to start; too bad they couldn't adapt to change faster and better.
posted by theora55 at 6:53 AM on July 4, 2009

I'm a little sad I can't remember much of my time on the Compuserve forums. I remember what they looked like, and I remember spending a lot of time on them and thinking they were great, but I can't remember much of what I actually did. (Sounds kind of like internet surfing today, actually.)

Except Worldsaway. I remember Worldsaway. The Commodore 64 version of Second Life.
posted by painquale at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

In 1980 I did an elementary school current events report on Solidarity. 90% of my research sources came from articles my friend downloaded off of Compuserve and printed on a tractor feed fixed width printer. It was awesome. So basically, I've been using Wikipedia as my primary research resource for nearly 30 years.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on July 4, 2009

I was on Prodigy, one of Compuserve's and AOL's "national BBS" competitors. At least in Prodigy's case, it wasn't that they couldn't adapt to change, it was that they didn't want to. I was a happy paying-by-the-hour Prodigy user until, shortly after they relented and allowed internet email to be exchanged with non-Prodigy users, they announced a new pricing plan that charged $0.25 or so per email or forum post, internal or external. Clearly the incompetent management jackass who decided "We can charge all the traffic will bear as long as we still outcompete the post office!" hadn't been talking to the engineers who had recently revealed "There's a whole world of other computer users out there who can switch from one service provider to another without losing the ability to communicate electronically."

There was a mass exodus.

They sent out letters to ex-customers asking why people had left. We didn't respond. When someone asks you "Why did I get all wet when I went out in the rain?", how do you even begin to answer? There's just no way to easily ascertain what intellectual failure has caused them to be unable to answer the question themselves...
posted by roystgnr at 8:07 AM on July 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

71540,3434 here to represent.

I'm older than all you punks, apparently. ;)
posted by rokusan at 8:17 AM on July 4, 2009

CompuServe was my "summer network" that I mostly used when I wasn't at school. Like cccolrew, I used an offline reader to download and upload messages. (I even went through great contortions to be able to PGP-sign my CIS messages.) In fact, it looks like I've still got 2MB of zipped e-mails and forum messages in a folder on my PC, copied over when I retired my college-era DOS box.

Other than keeping me from dying of net.deprivation in the summer, the main use of my CompuServe account was as a sobriety check: If I was too drunk to remember my CIS userid, it was time to stop drinking.

Know when I realized CompuServe was doomed? When I got an absurd note from a moderator of the "College Forum" saying I wasn't allowed to mention my school e-mail address (a BITNET address, by the way) on their message board, because it was "outside the scope of the forum." Lamers. I let my account expire after finding a real ISP.

This is 74367,1153 signing off. (Huh. Not drunk yet. Time to grab another beer!)
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 8:58 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

73641,3156 here, I think. I'm such a n00b.
posted by bink at 9:02 AM on July 4, 2009

I guess Compuserve was essentially the internet for rich people back in the day.
or for those that had no choice. I paid .30 german Pfennig plus call charges, which easily came out to $15-20 per hour, for 28.8 dialup service. rest in peace? hell, no. good riddance is more like it.
posted by krautland at 9:05 AM on July 4, 2009


70375,350 here.
posted by mike3k at 9:10 AM on July 4, 2009

I was 71044,3355 on CompuServe. I just noticed I had an old Procomm Plus sticker on something.

These days, "old" guys like me have to show the kids just coming out of school how to troubleshoot a modem.
posted by MrGuilt at 9:13 AM on July 4, 2009


^ world's slowest animated gif
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:33 AM on July 4, 2009

I confess I don't remember my ID... looks embarassed

But, I do remember getting gift boxes from Wall Data (Now MicroFocus) for providing user support for Rumba (I was an admin on an AS/400 so I did some interesting things with the package, and was well known enough during the Bill Lambdin days in the antivirus forum that Graham "Tickety Boo" Cluley of Dr. Solomon's (now woith Sophos) sent me goodies. (I still have the socks somewhere.)

posted by Samizdata at 9:41 AM on July 4, 2009

posted by tyllwin at 10:04 AM on July 4, 2009

Met my wife via a CompuServe forum in 1995.

<stands at CompuServe grave, hat in hand>
posted by crapmatic at 10:06 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I remember meeting a lot of alt.music.christian.rock people (or whatever the hell it was) through there, and eventually meeting them at Cornerstone Festival. Funny, I ended up losing touch with a lot of people after meeting IRL. Even if they were cool...
I have a sneaking suspicion that we might have met at the rec.music.christian BBQ. Do you remember the tend with the giant inflatable gumby duct-taped to it?

In any case, I was always more of an AOL kid -- in part because I'd managed to volunteer my way into a comped account. Free AOL beat pay compuserve, and the war-of-attrition between the two services always felt like some sort of epic struggle between superpowers.
posted by verb at 10:11 AM on July 4, 2009

For everyone talking about how expensive it was: man, you didn't pay for CompuServe. You hacked someone else's account and ran up huge charges on their bill. Then repeat as cancellations of accounts deem necessary. Although frankly, I never thought it was nearly as good as BBSes, once the thrill of having hacked an account subsided.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:25 AM on July 4, 2009

painquale: "Except Worldsaway. I remember Worldsaway. The Commodore 64 version of Second Life."

I was an Acolyte volunteer staff member there, and created a couple of weird events for them. It was cool for its time, and behind the scenes there were a few awesome individuals, but it never lived up to its potential.

WorldsAway was based upon Club Caribe, which was based upon the beta-only Habitat. It ran in much more powerful client computers (CC ran on a Commodore 64 for crying out loud), had a larger staff, and so on. And yet, it also seemed to be fairly unstable, and never had a world even a small fraction of the size of the original worlds, and had far less agency for user interaction than those other places.

It was also, I hear, written fairly loosely. It was easy for an Oracle (internal staff god-mode user) to accidentally bring down the entire world with an incorrect database input. They had these tools that could be used to modify characters and inventories arbitrarily in real-time, and these were used rather more than they should have been for granting users cool items and colors and stuff. It's kind of funny to think back to the mystique these tools acquired. One of them was the "Oil of Okay."

Looking back, we had such a sense of self-importance about it all. Now Second Life does everything WA did, but in 3D, and with extensive user scripting and world building, and much more stability, and with web integration, and much MUCH more porn, and yet with far, far less internal drama and Dilbert-like maneuvering (to paraphrase a friend who was internal staff) maneuvering behind the scenes.

I hear WorldsAway is still around, as "VZones" or some such (their website seems to be down), and they still manage to eke out a living of sorts. Probably a hobbyist could hack something up that was similar in Flash now without much trouble.

On the Compuserve side of things, I often hung out in the video games forum (which in the days before the web was where I got my copy of Nethack 3.1.3), and sci-fi media forum. This was back in the days when Mystery Science Theater was still on the air. Then as now, MSTies are a class of fan apart.

I once interviewed Jim Butterfield in the even-then aging and dusty halls of the C64 forum. I desperately wish my transcript of that was still around. He was such an awesome guy.

I also once exchanged messages with Chris Crawford in a game designer's forum there. Also awesome.

I think that's nearly the extent of my interaction with CompuServe.
posted by JHarris at 10:37 AM on July 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I did a graduate paper on "Accessing the Other" or some such shite, using the CompuServe alt.sex forums. Consisted of maintaining multiple live sex chats as a straight man, gay woman, underage girl, bi-teen, etc and redirecting responses so that eventually the bi-teen was "talking" to the gay woman and oh, never mind. It was art school.
Anyway, the fact that I could use the crazy technology was enough to get me an A in 1995.
posted by memewit at 11:57 AM on July 4, 2009

Now Second Life does everything WA did, but in 3D, and with extensive user scripting and world building, and much more stability, and with web integration, and much MUCH more porn

Not more porn than Seducity though. The first time I saw a screenshot, I couldn't believe what had happened to my pure and innocent WorldsAway.
posted by painquale at 12:02 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

121515,2625 -- UK user, amazed I remember that.
Thanks for the good memories CompuServe, certainly had a profound impact on my life (Compuserve was my first connection to the Internet) and boy did I rack up those bills, amazed my parents didn't disown me, or worse.
It would be fantastic if they would release all the old forum postings, a marathon down memory lane, or perhaps the past is best left to an imperfect memory where only the good bubbles to the top.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:10 PM on July 4, 2009



GO HOM 9..


HOM 9?

posted by tzikeh at 12:45 PM on July 4, 2009

COMPUSERVE! You got me my job interview in the now legendary Multi-Media Gulch with Kevin Kelly at Wired in '94. Then downstairs with Dave Eggers at MIGHT (and bOING bOING). Then at C/NET when it was a teevee station...

...the rest was history. But after that, all future!

Thank you, CS!

posted by humannaire at 1:30 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by liza at 1:33 PM on July 4, 2009


Man. We had a CI$ (surprised to see no one using that version of the acronym) account from the earliest days that we had a computer (back in the mid-`80s). Even though my mom was never particularly tech savvy, we were somehow early adopters. Got in trouble one month when I ran up a huge bill, but then I bought a copy of TAPCIS (mentioned upthread), which automated a lot of stuff and dramatically reduced your online times.

I used to hang out a lot on the RPG forum, where we'd do play-by-email that would take years to get anything done. (But it was fun!) And in fact, the first-ever offline "meetup" I went to was at some restaurant in NYC where a bunch of people from the TAPCIS forum were gathering.

Anyone else remember some of the online games they had? British Legends, Islands of Kesmai.... Ahh, memories.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:35 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, I remember an old mac program (was there a pc one?) that let me queue all my email/replies and all my forums into a single download/upload (300 then 1200 then 2400 then, I think 9600 + 14.4) It'd let me get a good estimate of usage too, so I knew how much I was spending, I think.

73717, 3536. Ah, I will miss you.
posted by filmgeek at 2:41 PM on July 4, 2009

I was on CIS for, I think, a year or so. But I honestly don't remember. And I sure as hell don't remember my ID. It was the first account I had after getting out of school, where I had (shell-based) Internet access that took a surprisingly long time to get turned off after I graduated.

I have a vague recollection of using the internet gateway from my legacy account at my alma mater, but just to test. I remember that I dumped CIS as soon as I could get a "real internet" PPP dialup from a service I can't remember the name of, using a browser I can't remember the name of and didn't know enough to be impressed by (it used tabbed browsing c. 1995). Which I dumped for IBM Global Network, accessed using OS/2 Warp on a pathetically inadequate piece of equipment. Dumped that for a PPP account with one of the legion of local service providers who were later bought out by Verio. From which I jumped to Earthlink, until I got RoadRunner, which I had until I moved in with my now-Wife, who had DSL, which we dumped to go back to RoadRunner. Someowhere along in there I got my own domain and freed myself from dependecy on an access provider for email service.

I never used CIS's services. Just didn't find them useful. I wasn't going to pay a ton of $$ for the forums, when I could get what I was interested in through FIDONet. I just used CIS for the PPP.
posted by lodurr at 4:34 PM on July 4, 2009

I met my wife on compuserve.

Well she wasn't my wife then of course.

Without Compuserve I would never have met her, would never have emigrated to the US, my life would have been very different.
posted by schwa at 4:38 PM on July 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by halonine at 4:55 PM on July 4, 2009


I finally joined CompuServe in the late 1980s (as 71331,1646), and kept my CIS e-mail until 2002, or so. Racked up quite a few large bills in the beginning until I discovered offline readers such as TAPCIS. Then AOL bought CIS and everything went downhill. (Anyone remember CompuServe 2000? No? Good. "CompuServe in AOL drag," I called it—ecch.)

CompuServe's biggest strength, of course, were the online forums. I used to hang out regularly in the Desktop Publishing forum, and a bunch of other ones, too. Yes, the DTP forum has a new Web home, post-CIS, but although many of the same people are there, it feels different—not as much traffic, not as much participation as in the old days. I'm sure the same can be said of some of the other fora, too.

I still have some plain-text files of archived forum threads from way back when. Time to go look for them and reminisce about the Good Old (Early Online Era) Days, pre-graphics and pre-formatting. (!)
posted by kentk at 6:03 PM on July 4, 2009

Like crapmatic and schwa, I also met my spouse on CompuServe forums. I was 110317,1137. He was in London, UK and I was in Covington, Kentucky, and we were introduced by a mutual friend on a chat channel. Amazing. This was in 1998 so I've forgotten a lot of the details, but I think most of the channels had names - "The Pub" and that sort of thing, but we met on Channel 22, I think. He was Nihilist and I was Tiramisu - there were a cast of characters including DragonLady and Professor_of_Logic .... happy memories.
posted by tizzie at 7:29 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Catch22 - that was it.
posted by tizzie at 7:44 PM on July 4, 2009

Well, that's a relief. I think I still owe them $3000.
posted by dhartung at 10:22 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was some type of board admin for Edrive and helped the launch of Ydrive when I was probably 13...anyone remember those? My claim to fame was being given the email john@compuserve.com instead of a standard # because of my connections. Of course that sucked because no one understood email back then so I received hundreds of messages for other people named john.
posted by John Presley at 11:30 PM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

CompuServe? That's for grownups. Me and my friends use BBSes. WWIV is so much better than CI$. We've got WWIVnet, ANSI art, and TradeWars 2002! And if you're elite enough, the Sysop may just give you access to his private stash of NPD!
posted by Afroblanco at 1:05 PM on July 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some guys in CB once threatened to narc me out for flipping out (at age, like 13) after they clowned my handle. I don't think I ever went back, but I understand underage online freakouts now when I see them.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2009

Excellent use of 'graybeard' tag, by the way.
posted by rokusan at 3:58 PM on July 7, 2009

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