Tuesday, July 14, 2009

RIP CompuServe Classic - Another Baby Boomer Favorite Gone

This isn't a funeral for a person but an online service that predated the Internet, and in some ways was one of the first social networks-using a 1200 baud modem.

CompuServe Classic was discontinued June 30, 2009.

I still have CompuServe 3.0.4 on my computer.

I came late to the computer world. I bought my first computer, a Toshiba Pentium with a 1.6 GB hard drive and 16 MB of RAM, and a 14,400 bps modem, in December of 1996. It was sort of a self-birthday gift. With a service plan it set me back nearly $2,000 and I took a loan off my 401K to purchase it.

I had heard about CompuServe from savvy friends, and they told me about certain Forums I would enjoy. So in January of 1997 I joined the online world, using a Mosaic browser and immediately joined CompuServe. It was love at first sight. I stayed with CompuServe for over 6 years but by then AOL and the Internet had gutted it so much it wasn't worth it. I went broadband.

I realize that in CompuServe time no veteran would be impressed by this. I missed the 1980's when the online services like GEnie, Prodigy, and the various local BBS systems, allowed the technologically proficient to get online and communicate with each other. Still, in the 1997 world (this is before AOL bought CompuServe, by the way) this was exciting stuff. In fact, I still have my first email, which was a request for help on how to make a potato battery (my son wanted to know.)

And flat rate monthly service hadn't been adopted yet, so we paid by the hour.

I had one of those all number email addresses - 105643.2042@compuserve.com - and kept it for my entire history with CompuServe. I participated in several forums and "lurked" in many more. A couple of sysops helped me through some personal hard times and I met one for lunch when she visited Binghamton.

It wasn't as glitzy as Facebook but I do miss it.
And now it's gone.

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