Long before America Online (AOL), CompuServe (CIS) ruled the land of online services. I could never afford CompuServe (they charged by the hour) but a good friend of mine had an account and the two of us spent some time together on CompuServe posting messages, trading files, and chatting with people across the country. CompuServe had local phone numbers connected to modems for users to call; those modems were connected to PDP minicomputers that were connected to nodes all across the country. This allowed my friend and I to trade files and chat with people all across the country (as long as his parents continued to pay the bill!). According to Wikipedia, CompuServe was the first online service to offer internet connectivity, all the way back in 1989. Up until the mid 90s CompuServe was the most popular online service. It was toppled by AOL, whose monthly rate with unlimited usage proved to be more popular than CompuServe’s original rate of $10/hour.
Several years ago when my friend got rid of all of his old Commodore equipment I inherited it, including his old CompuServe software. Obviously it no longer works (which is a shame), but I still get a kick out of looking at it and remembering those good CompuServe times.
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