Compuserve shuts down

After 30 years, Compuserve is finally, totally, mostly dead (the email addresses still work). I was always a local BBS and GEnie guy, but there's no doubting the power and influence of Compuserve in introducing the idea of networked communications to a generation, and proving the business-case for commercial online activity:
The original CompuServe service, first offered in 1979, was shut down this past week by its current owner, AOL. The service, which provided its users with addresses such as 73402,3633 and was the first major online service, had seen the number of users dwindle in recent years. At its height, the service boasted about having over half a million users simultaneously on line. Many innovations we now take for granted, from online travel (Eaasy Sabre), online shopping, online stock quotations, and global weather forecasts, just to name a few, were standard fare on CompuServe in the 1980s.

CompuServe users will be able to use their existing CompuServe Classic (as the service was renamed) addresses at no charge via a new e-mail system, but the software that the service was built on, along with all the features supported by that software, from forums for virtually every topic and profession known to man to members' Ourworld Web pages, has been shut down. Indeed, the current version of the service's client software, CompuServe for Windows NT 4.0.2, dates back to 1999.

CompuServe Requiem (via Beyond the Beyond)


  1. Think of the PDP-10’s – are they still around?

    From Wikipedia PDP-10 entry (easiest link, GIYF[0] if you want more authoritative resources):

    One of the largest collections of DECsystem-10 architecture systems ever assembled was at CompuServe, which at its peak operated over 200 loosely-coupled systems in three data centers in Columbus, Ohio. CompuServe used these systems as ‘hosts’, providing access to commercial applications as well as the CompuServe Information Service. While the first such systems were purchased from DEC, when DEC abandoned the PDP-10 architecture in favor the VAX, CompuServe and other PDP-10 customers began purchasing plug-compatible computers from Systems Concepts. As of January 2007, CompuServe continues to operate a small number of PDP-10 architecture machines to perform some billing and routing functions.

    Link to Wikipedia PDP-10 Entry

  2. but, but, but….
    if I go to they still want me to sign up!
    What, the funeral?

  3. Um, was Compuserve still around all this time? I hadn’t thought about them in years. I can’t even remember the last time I saw one of their ads.

  4. I remember getting hooked on online chatting on Compuserve, and racking up an $800 bill one month. My mom was beyond upset.

  5. I hope someone like Google buys and indexes all the historical data from their forums. It will very interesting for understanding the transition period from isolated machines to the Internet today.

  6. Compuserve used to put their servers/routers/whatever the hell they were in the basements of local H & R Block offices. Telco would bring dozens of rotary POTS lines up to those machines for inbound connections from local citizens/customers, then hi-cap lines would go out to the interweb. Clever & definitely a cheap-o way of doing things, wish I’d have thought of it. A drawback was when there was trouble at the location: if it wasn’t tax season the lines & machines were hard to get access to, outages would go for days. Also, H & R Block was notorious to telco for really poor phone systems & computer networks, so if their communications folks had anything to do with Compuserve, it was bound to be clunky.

  7. @Jimtron: Yes, they did. Fun fact: Per the guy who invented it, they’re pronounced “jiff” – the G is soft.

  8. ahhh the days of chatting and playing word games on “CB”. Strange wonderful days of yor. Oh, and laughing at AOL when it first came out. ooops.


  9. They shot themselves in the foot when they didn’t stress their forward-looking philosophy. At one time they were innovative, but it seems like they fell off the bus long ago. And the name, Compuserve Classic is the latest example of why they are (almost) closing their doors.

  10. We can only hope that AOL itself goes down the same path to irrelevance and finally demise. Being spun off from Time Warner as a waste of space certain helps in this regard.

  11. I first signed up with Compuserve because the National Press Photographers Association had a job board there. I used software called TAPCIS (The Access Program, Compuserve Information Systems). I’d download what I needed, go through it off line, upload email, etc. Saved money on connection time.

  12. This is too bad. I would have loved to have logged into a virtual Compuserve simulator and play some of the (then) amazing online games. One. More. Time.

  13. My first ever ISP and email address. Email address still in use today (now one of many I have).

    I am sad.

    (IIRC “Classic” was not a term of static antiquity as implied by #13 Sparxoo, but more in the sense of “original” to differentiate it from the later, crapulent, AOL-powered new “compuserve” that was susequently foisted on an unimpressed community.)

  14. This is really sad. Although I didn’t like paying $12/hr on CompuServe, the discussion forums were very, very serious and useful. There isn’t much that matches it today. I’m bummed.

  15. I had Compuserve in 1994 or so and it resulted in a banner year of “firsts” for me.

    First on-line purchase (laserdic player)
    First on-line travel arrangements/plane tickets
    First exposure to newsgroups (home theater, which resulted in laserdisc purchase)
    First exposure to on-line porn (*)
    First download of a game mod (“Aliens” mod for “Doom”)

    Things change, life goes on, but the memories remain.

  16. Still use the Compuserve address after all these years as my main one. Same address since 1984…did survive the transition from numeric to alpha addresses. Used TAPCIS…and all the often kludgey CS software.

    Still the end to a system approach that, for all its warts, set the framework for everything that followed. Wonder if this is a foreboding for other American staples such as Ford and GE.

  17. I wish I could remember my CompuServe ID. I was 11, a geek, had a 110-baud acoustically coupled modem for my OSI C1P — and ran up a huge phone + data bill. My folks were furious, but coped. Eventually, I turned it into a career, and made it up to them.

  18. At the risk of being self-referential, I agree with earlier posters about the quality of the forum discussions in those days. Signal to noise and all that.
    Easy to run up big bills though.

  19. I was living overseas & my high school would connect to another of CompuServe’s competitors… The Source. We used a 300 baud modem and dialed a local number that would connect us to a satellite feed back to the US. A year later I returned to the United States, and imagine my surprise when I found out the place we had been calling was about 3 blocks from my house!!

  20. Adios Compuserve. I was a SYSOP on 3 Forums from 1985 to 1998. Seems like two lifetimes ago.

  21. I was filing audio reports via FTP for my public radio station from the Canary Islands in early 1999, well before that mode of filing became common. At the time, there were only a couple of international ISPs which had dialups in some of the smaller cities. I don’t recall the name of the other one, but the one that I found more reliable was … yep, Compuserve. They actually had local dialups in Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where I was able to upload my mp2 encoded audio at a blazing 9600 bps.

  22. ‘snif. I still use an old Compuserve “You’ve got new mail waiting.” WAV file as my new mail announcement. Nice female voice, and our company did all of its original online support via Compuserve.

  23. yes, sniff. I’m one of then many who received their new Commodore 64 with a ComputServ and AOL floppy included when I was in junior high. This must have been in the early-mid eighties. They may even have been cassette storage, not floppies. Even then I knew that those kinds of services didn’t have the value add that going direct to the network would have. This is why the AOL service is worthless now, and they have to give away accounts for free. It was the bulletin boards that were cool. But still, yes, ahem, they were corporate visionaries I guess.

  24. In a company where I worked in the early nineties there was a regional sales director that mastered MS Access. Whenever he had a technical question he logged on to CompuServe and posed it in the Access forum. Realizing the possibilities I immediately signed up. I was a networked PC platform applications developer and was thoroughly hooked on CompuServe’s forums. The chat forums were fun and it was easy to blow a whole evening chatting on-line. When AOL acquired it the spam problem killed them so I cancelled my subscription. The Internet made them irrelevant too. By then I was weaning myself from networked PC platforms so I had almost no use for its forums.

  25. I worked for CompuServe (then Compu-Serv) in the early- to mid-70s and remember 300- and 1200-baud (high speed) modems, the DEC-10s in freezing computer rooms at their headquarters in Columbus, and interoffice email long before that term was coined. They sent me on the first business trips of my career and I met other young people like myself who have remained lifelong friends — we are all now middle-aged with adult children. Our baby boomer generation was born and grew up during the computer age and that gives us a unique perspective. Working for CompuServe was very cool.

  26. I too had aquired a commodore computer in 1981 and yes it was floppy discs that it used at the time and with it I received a Compu-serv disc. I installed it and joined the service just like millions of others did at that time. We had so much fun and learned so much about computers as well as anything else you can imagine. Because of Compu-serv my grades in high school soared from a C and D- to A- and B+ not to mention streaming through college with top honors thanks to what was later CompuServe. Thanks so much for being there for all of us!

  27. If CompuServe is shut down, then why are they still charging users $19.95 a month for the service? Hmmm…sounds like a class action lawsuit to me.




  29. I believe that they are referring to the original Compuserve; NOT Compuserve 2000. I still use my Compuserve address which is a “” address. I was told that this is not the part of Compuserve that is no longer supported.

  30. The problems didn’t matter; not speed, not cost. Covette Stingrays were old too, when CompuServe was new. They both remain awesome. I had the fabulous Hayes Smartmodem 300bps (Cadillac of modems in those days) and had been using the local bulletin boards; but CompuServe was like finding god. If you like the Internet now, you would have been just as thrilled with the smaller, slower, limited but still incandescent experiences you could have with CompuServe. RIP

  31. I was one of the CIS users who had a Web site on OurWorld. I did not get any notice about the impending shutdown because I haven’t actually logged on the CompuServe for years (I kept my account active to have the Web page but haven’t done anything else with it for a long time). My Web site appears to be gone for good. I’m going to contact CompuServe in Columbus next week to see if they made any backups, but if they didn’t, any advice on getting the files for my site back? I no longer have access to the computer where I wrote and uploaded the site 10 years ago. Thanks for any help!

    Bruce Watson
    Name of site in OurWorld: llamadancer

  32. CompuServe was a great idea. Being a global citizen, travelling from any country to any country was a breeze. Just saved the dial-in numbers in every country, and you were all set. You could get online from any country, for just a little surcharge. A very good deal, for most business people, like me.

    Another advantage of CompuServe was to give you 2 worlds for the price of 1 (well, 1.1). You got the vast (from the beginning on in fact a BIGGER world than Internet itself) in-CompuServe world with all the webpages, forums, addresses, etc; in addition you got unrestricted, fast connection to the out-CompuServe world, as known today as the “Internet”. Two worlds, for the price of one. Total coverage. (In contrast, if you only connected to the Internet, you were exluding yourself from the rich world of CompuServe).

    CompuServe was a similarly high-end, value-added, exclusive service as today’s Apples (Macs) are. Apples also give you a “global standard”, as well as 2-in-1 functionality (not only 2, but in fact ALL-in-1, as you can run virtually any operating system on a Mac). Yet another example are Mercedes-Benz cars: ultimate quality, global and timeless coverage, and no-nonsense elegance and utility value.

    Apple and Mercedes-Benz are still “worlds in the world” kind of indestructible diamons of the business world. I feel very sad that CompuServe is not there anymore. I for one would like to revive it myself, plans are already on the drawing table. Keep your fingers crossed: I bet there are still TOUGH people out there who do not like compromises and go for the best for a little premium.

    For those driving a Merc and working on an Apple, I will try to re-invent a similarly ingenious, global and elegantly simple value-added service like CompuServe. Anyone willing to join with ideas, time/effort, or any other form of support, find me on

  33. I am overwhelmed by a deep sadness at the demise of CompuService as we knew and loved it. I remember the pay-by-minute days. I remember Pete Peterson of WordPerfect telling yarns every evening about the history and plans of his company — always interesting & entertaining, never dry. I was an assistant sysop for the late, lamented Mystery Forum, a subset of the Literary Forum.

    AOL made a serious marketing mistake when it acquired CompuServe. They treated it as an annoying and disposable competitor. If AOL had treated CS as a complementary online service and sold its virtues to a niche market, CS could have remained successful. CS was the Internet for Grownups. AOL was for the younger folks. CS was relatively serious; AOL was “fun” oriented. A seriously ignored marketing opportunity. Sigh!

  34. I worked for compuserve for a long time and feel sad after reading this page. I am still in love with this software and will always be. Love you CS !!

  35. I started with Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s Prodigy because the software disk was free. I had to pay for any other service’s disk. Of course, 1st I had to upgrade to a graphics adapter. Later, I witched to Compuserve, because Prodigy had trouble handling pictures from the World Wide Web.

  36. I still long for their forums. As someone already mentioned there is nothing like it yet. They had the industries best people participating in their forums.
    I almost never printed messages but I did one time & I kept it all these years. It was from someone with the last name Wozniak.

  37. Whatever changes AOL has wrought upon us Compuserve users (about 20 yr user here)) it served to get me to not be able to use Compuserve. Was that their intend ? If so, it worked.

    Can anyone here please guide me thru how to get back on it and or the various forums ?


  38. Well, I guss this explains everything. Since I have had no reason to go to my account, I never saw thi page, nor was I invitedto the funeral. I have been contemplating closing my
    account and now I have no choie and no guilt. I loved compuserve. It actually spoke in a language even I found simple and functional. Now, 30 years later my 70 yr old brain wll have to get a transplant just to understand the directions.

    Question: Is there an there an easy way to transfer a wealth of info to a new carrier. Phyllis in Alaska

  39. I have enjoyed the great historical review of Compuserve,
    reminding me of my progression from my Apple II+ with 300bd
    Hayes Smartmodem (used for 16 years), until my kicking & screaming
    entry into the world of Wintel. There was even a period when my numeric email addy was refused by some systems as likely being spam. Fortunately, those systems were either smartened-up OR killed by competition.

    It’s only the revival of my many-splitted shares of AAPL stock
    (held since the IPO) that has cured me of my permanent anger at
    Jobs & company’s switch to totally incompatible systems.

    I enjoyed and got a lot of help from those forums!

  40. In 1979, we were in upstate N.Y. doing pipe support design at a nuclear power plant while 40 below wind and snow swirled around our trailer. We had a drum type phone modem with thermal paper sending indeterminate beam problems to CompuServe and would get the results overnight. 40 engineers relied on those results. Half of them were named Patel, as I recall. Fun times.

  41. During the ’90’s I was a moderator in a Compuserve Forum dealing with home design and construction (this was my business for about 50 years). I answered questions and dialogued with folks from many different places around the country and the world. In particular I remember talking with a fellow who was building his house in Canada at the edge of the Arctic Circle – and with another, an architect in Swaziland (do you know where that is?). All of this from my desk in a garage apartment behind my house in Atlanta. I was sad when they shut down this window on the world.

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