CompuServe, the first commercially successful online and email provider in America, has been shut down by AOL after 30 years. The original CompuServe which was later renamed CompuServe Classic was formally laid to rest this month. In an email sent to its remaining subscribers, AOL urged customers sticking with cheap dial-up to move on to the company's surviving sub-brand ISP, CompuServe 2000.
A CompuServe account was the archetypal life on the Internet for many less technically literate early internet users. Accounts had numbers but it was the first mainstream site that allowed email and chat and message boards for the great unwashed.
CompuServe's online service for consumers debuted in 1979. By 1991, the company boasted having over a half a million users simultaneously online. Competing upstart services like AOL, however, eventually surpassed CompuServe in popularity by offering perks such as monthly rates instead of per-hour online access. AOL later board CompuServe in 1997 and many users felt that it was not the same ever again.
Certainly AOL could not be bothered updating the software. C$ 'Classic' has a date of January 11 1999 and was penned for Windows NT. However there are countless of us who were introduced to the world wide wibble through C$ and many would be lonely geeks even met the woman of their dreams, or at least someone who might have been the woman of their dreams, in the Black Star room.