back to article CompuServe signs off

CompuServe, the first commercially successful online and email provider in America, has been shut down by AOL after 30 years of service. The original CompuServe — later renamed CompuServe Classic — was laid to rest July 1, 2009. In a message sent to its remaining subscribers, AOL urged customers sticking with cheap dial-up to …


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  1. Sly

    It's like...

    actually knowing how to use IRC via telnet

  2. h 6
    Thumb Up

    I must say

    CompuServe was awesome for me and my Coleco Adam. But I ended up spending most of my after school 300 baud online time at the local BBSs. For free. Fidonet anyone?

    Mine's the worn 37 year old one near the back.

  3. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Content saved?

    Before AOL killed Q-Link there was a mass effort to save as much of the content as possible, which was no easy task as a lot of segments of the system had failed or become otherwise unstable.

    Someone managed to save file areas of GEnie (in particular, Commodore files I know are online.) Makes me wonder if the contents of the CompuServe file and message bases will be preserved.

    Paris, much of her system has become otherwise unstable, too.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Compuserve, absolute balls!

    BBS land, that was where the fun was, loads more interersting stuff than the limited and regulated crap that was always on Compuserve. Morons and software patches was all I ever found on Compuserve!

    So long!

  5. Grant Alexander
    Black Helicopters

    I'm all nostalgic and misty-eyed

    I cut my teeth on-line in CompuServe. Kind of hard to remember, but I recall my first ventures onto the WWW and losing my way because I didn't have that helpful structure.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Who knew it was still around? I used to have a compuserve account years ago but soon wondered why I was paying so much each month for a mailbox, internet access,and miles of useless forums mediated by anally retentive jerks. The past, eh, I remember when computers really were computers, and no one needed a megabyte of ram ....

  7. nobby

    aww. i remember it well

    Well, whilst I was a customer of compuserve they gave me a "nice" email address with a real name in it (well as real as "nobby" gets).

    The thing that stopped me crossing over to compuserve2000 was that they wouldn't maintain the email account and i'd need a new one. So I was going to have to ditch the email account I'd used for the past 5 years. So I ran off and got something much more wholesome than this lumbering giant could offer.

    Back in The Day, compuserve offered their client for a multitude of platforms. Well it seemed a multitude to me languishing on os/2 looking for *any* native software I could find.

    /me cries. but only a little and in a manly way, y'understand

  8. John Fairhurst

    RIP Compuserve

    Compuserve was my first introduction to this thing called the interweb lo those thirteen years ago (an Age of the world ago as far as the 'Net was concerned :-)), and though I didn't stay with them all that long they provided a good introduction to the online world

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    I had total forgotten about them. I had them back in 1994 -97.... It was OK service but after that point I got free dial up to the places that I worked. (DSL since about 2004)

  10. Tony S


    I signed up for Compuserve back in about 1991 - I still have the same email account although many years ago they did allow us to change to digital address to an alpha numeric.

    By and large the Compuserve forums were good - intelligent converation on a wide range of topics - very few of the moronic, semi literate postings that we see elsewhere.

    When AOL bought them out, I knew then that it was the death knell - service cut, support cut, forums closed, pressure to move over to the main AOL package where they bombarded you with crap advertising.

    Still, that is the way of cyber space - no-one is guaranteed that they will survive, and if they don't adapt quickly enough...... then Darwins theory works just as well in the digital world as in the analogue world.

    You'll still see the compuserve addresses though - they are being maintained through the AOL mail system. I daresay though that will dissappear as well before long.

    RIP Compuserve 1979 - 2009

  11. Phil Parker

    A bit of history

    Compuserve was best known in the UK fo putting CD's on the front of pretty much every computer magazine in the 1980's. I remember hooking up the company laptop (Toshiba 386 model) to the web using a fax modem and surfing in glorious black & white !

  12. newyorkbob

    The Paper PC: CompuServe Classic: So Long, Old Friend

    My take on the end of CompuServe Classic (posted on June 30, its last full day):

    The Paper PC: CompuServe Classic: So Long, Old Friend


  13. Dan S

    @ h 6

    "I ended up spending most of my after school 300 baud online time at the local BBSs. For free. Fidonet anyone?"

    Yeah, I was a fido sysop (2:440/308 IIRC). The nice thing was your local BBS could pre-process and compress (ARC, LZH, ZIP whatever...) your mail so you'd make maximum use of your online time. That was great for the UK where we paid BT by the minute (albeit only local rates).

  14. Anonymous Coward

    My first *free* internet access

    Ahh yes...

    1) Log in to Compuserve

    2) Enter a free support forum

    3) Launch second Compuserve window

    4) Browse for free

    Those were days... actually at that speed it was hell.

  15. northern monkey

    (why can't nothing be a title?)

    "It's important to note that CompuServe users will be able to convert their ridiculous classic 9 and 10-digit email addresses to the CompuServe 2000 service in order to retain their well-earned sense of superiority over youngster internet users everywhere. Nothing says stay off my lawn like"

    Thanks, you've just made me feel old.

  16. SnowCrash

    happy days

    i remember working on tech support for CompuServe from their Bristol office. happy days of telling users modem commands and then explaining what the & looked like. AOL's buyout killed a great service.

  17. DrXym

    A small piece of trivia

    AOL were planning to use the Mozilla layout engine (Gecko) in the AOL client. They never got that far but they did implement it in the Compuserve client since the codebase for both was largely shared. So that last version of the Compuserve client was running Mozilla in the middle of it. AOL got moneyhatted by MS to drop an anticompetition lawsuit and so they cut Mozilla loose. In the long term this probably the best thing that could have happened to it.

  18. richard 7
    Thumb Up

    @ h6 and Dan S

    2:250.251 here, oh dear that was an age ago :(

    I used compuserve for a while but was late anough that when this small company called Demon sent me info saying I could use ther better service for less I Was off like a shot.

    Was also one of the luck Videotron customers so I was getting phonebook sized bills for 10p of calls some months :)

    End to an era I guess, I didnt think they were actually any good but its another one of the 'old school' lot gone

  19. Neil 4

    My First Job

    Was doing tech support for Compuserve. This was back in the day when tech support people actually had to know something more than "turn it off and on again". Nothing better than dishing out AT commands over the phone, or trying to get PPP working on Windows 95. Or trying to sort out people still using WinCIM on Windows 3.x, or even DosCIM.

    And then there was the well-remembered day when they release CSi3.0 to the public.... without actually telling us. Or training us. Or showing it to us at all.

    But of course the best thing was people only had one phone line.... so you could utter the immortal call-ending words.... "Right, if you hang up now and try again it should all be fine!" Can't away with that these days, what with your ADSLs and Cable internets. Although your heart would always sink if they replied "It's okay, I've got 2 lines".

    <Waves at anyone who worked at Teletech in Reigate in 1996-1997>

  20. David Webb


    Ahh yeah, CompuServe and UK Chat forum. CS was my first ISP but they couldn't keep up with that new fangled "Freeserve" thing that just popped up! Free internet access? How dare they mess with our business model!

    Memories for £300-500 phone bills also still hurt. Been with F9 since '02 and never looked back.

    Who knows, maybe El Reg can do a nice editorial on the changing landscape of the UK Internet Scene, from the bad ole days of local rate 0845 numbers, to huge service charges for trying to connect to compuserve (friend in Ireland being charged a few hunded quid by CompuServe for peering) to 0800 numbers (Swindle Marketing International and James Winsor of whateverr his name is, promising "free internet" but somehow never providing it, ohh the shock!), to BT finally giving some kind of free internet number (0844?) to DSL. and the future IPV6 based 21CN!

    Just don't let Lewis write it, he'll try to get us to ditch the Internet to buy helicopters, from the yanks.

  21. Nameless Faceless Computer User


    Yup, I was 71331.3543 back in the 80's and 90's (if memory serves me). They charged me 10 cents a minute at 300 baud or 30 cents a minute at 9600 baud. I used to have my email sent to my alpha-pager since the service was cheaper than actually logging in to check my email. They also charged 25 cents per message for *receiving* Internet emails. That worked until I received my first piece of SPAM - the author of which actually expected me to purchase his snake oil after I incurred expense to read his dribble. That was the end of the service for me after years of entertaining ads in the classifieds section - similar to what Craig's List is today.

  22. CalmHandOnTheTiller

    Videotron ...

    Oh please dear god bring back Videotron... I had that back in the day before it got Mercury'd and then NTL'd and now Virgin'd ... You could dial all your mates in town for free and link through to the real internet for nowt... and yes they culled forests the size of Scandinavia to produce their bills that charged me nothing for al lthe free calls I made within their network.

  23. Cortland Richmond

    I'm 72146,373, do any there remember me?

    72146,373 hasn't been seen on Compu$erve for a long time, and it appears I can't use it there ever again; now I must pay to use it.


    Oh for ASCII!

    And faster screens of yore;

    We DL scads

    Of horrid ads

    And still don't read much more.


    or as Delphi used to say:


  24. Anonymous Coward


    Compuserve? I can't even believe they were still going. Even in the mid 90's us Demon users looked down on Compuserve as a service used by the stupid. Remember all the CD's they used to send out?

    And all those moderated forums while the rest of us were out on Usenet enjoying ourselves. Yuck.

  25. Tom 13

    Alas poor Compuserve, I knew it well

    My first Internet connection on a Commodore 64 with a blindingly fast 150 baud modem. But I was a poor starving college student, so it didn't last long. But at least it was sufficient to inoculate me against the entirely too cartoonish interface on AOL, whose CDs became even more prolific than those of Compuserve.


  26. JeffyPooh

    Early adopter

    I took a computer science class in the year 1980. I was the only person in the class of about 50 that had a computer of any description at home. I had four or five by then.

  27. Chris O'Shea
    Dead Vulture

    Compuserve was great back then ...

    I had a GENie account, a CompuServe account, and I was indeed BBSing back in late 1970s ...

    ... as I was travelling back and forth to the US, I wanted a service that would work internationally, and CompuServe gave me local dial-up in the US that I could use for compuserve email and later for access to CiX ...

    ... so when I got my CompuServe account, I was a big SF fan and asked if I could have certain digits in my ID ... from the Illuminati books, 5, 17 and 23, and from the HitchHikers books, 42 but didn't think anyone would read my request or care or be able to do anything

    I got back 100042, 2357

    and thought, "wow, they put in the 42, the 23 and the 5 ... pity about the 17 ...holy frak, that's the first and last digits (as UK/international CompuServe addresses begam witn 10, where the US/earlier addresses began with a 7) .... so they used every digit I asked, and all the rest were zeroes. For all their problems over the years, that one act of either extreme kindness or total random luck kept me a faithful supporter of CompuServe, even if I haven't logged in for ages.

    But now with the closing of the service, I can guilt free close my account and just remember the good times.

    Farewell Compu$pend ... I met many good friends for the first time on there, and spent many happy hours with 300 and 2,400 baud dialup.

  28. Peter Kay

    Was really quite good at the time

    You could actually chat to companies and people deeply involved with products, in addition to the general public. Same with CIX.

    Sadly it started becoming horribly expensive to access the Internet, so I moved to CIX and someone else (Zetnet? Might have been).

    Nowadays I'm not sure it's possible to build the same community; the Internet may have changed too much (and was also the problem, seeing as CIX and Compuserve pre-date Internet access for the general public). There's pockets of sanity on google/yahoo groups/usenet/various private forums but nothing generic.

  29. David Evans

    My first internet job...

    ...CompuServe in Reading. The writing was on the wall with the CompuServe 3 debacle and how that even made AOL look good. Met lots of good people there though.

  30. steward

    Predecessor, not forebearer

    "the online provider has finally unplugged its fore bearer"

    CompuServe was a predecessor service to AOL.

    Q-Link (for C64 computers) and the short-lived sister service PC Link (for Wintel computers) were the forebearers of AOL.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aaah Compuserve

    One of my first forays into the interwebnet was on my parents' compuserve account. My fondest memory was of WinCIM, and how utterly shite it was (that could have been windows 95 though). The connection used to "fall asleep", and seemed to wake up if you threw events at the window, like holding down control.

    I was very glad when the "free" providers came along.

  32. G Thomas

    Compuserve was great back then.....

    Compuserve was indeed great in its heyday. I remember the magazine and the stories about how Compuserve had improved someone's life, saved their business etc. I used DOSCIM (what were the commands to view message threads, 'back', 'up', 'home'?) and then the magic of the Windows version, WinCIM. They also had points of presence (local phone numbers) in various cities around the world, so if you travelled you could still dial in using a local-ish number. There were many forums (fora?), and some of them were actually useful. You could also have your own website before most people knew what a website was, and they even had a little wizard to help you publish your website.

    I joined Compuserve in December 1992 and I still have the first email I ever sent, to a friend in Australia (to whom I commented 'I've recently signed up with CompuServe and have just realised that I can send mail to your Internet address that I so carefully noted...') aah, the things we take for granted these days. They have made the transition off their Compuserve platform painless, you can still keep your Compuserve email account and they are now providing this for free.

    An important piece of personal computing history, I think.


  33. Charlie van Becelaere
    Gates Horns

    from: 75700,1326

    Yep. I still remember, and was mightily disturbed when they wanted me to change to CS2000 and lose that simply mnemonic address for something foolish like a name or a word.

    Oh, and keep off my lawn indeed!

    (evil billg because I'm sure he scuttled the old CompuServe in order to sink AOL so MSN could become the dominant player in the online space that it now is. oh, never mind.)

  34. 100113.1537

    Sad news

    As you can tell from my handle, I was an early user of CompuServe. In fact, without it I probably wouldn't have married my wife as the purchase of two 2400 modems (with which the CompyuServe subscription came free for the first year) when I left Norway for Australia was what kept me in touch with my - then - girlfriend. Internatrional 'phone calls were horrendously expensive at the time (early 90's) so without the daily emails we would have been lost.

    The forums were very useful back in the days of Word Perfect (pre-Windoze really) 'cos there was always someone who wanted a printer driver and CS was way better than the early WWW for finding specific items like that. It was also very useful for international access in some strange out of the way places.

    But, as has been said before, this is progress. They dies with the death of dial-up really as people went to local ISPs for broad-band access I guess global WiFi access accounts are the modern version, but the Telecoms companies own these as well.

    I for one am sad, even if we did give up the account about 4 years I can still roll-off the account name and password ************** (sniff)

  35. pbsjr

    CompuServe Signs Off

    I had not heard this news. It is a sad passing for me. I was a chart subscriber to CompuServe with my accoutic 300 baud modem and Tandy TRS-80 computer. My keyboard was such an odd ball that the only keys CompuServe would accept for password where "udgwlo" which I still use today. I love technology and can't learn enough but I do miss those pioneer days!

    So long friend,,,you won't be forgotten by us old timers,

  36. Trev 2

    Was good for getting started

    Always assumed they'd disappeared into AOL, although did hear rumours of an online service with Compuserve 2000 but no dialup. Wonder if they ever did ADSL?

    Got my first "internet" (kindof) connection with them via Telnet on my first computer way back in 1993 which I guess makes me old. Good old national rate phone numbers, staying up to 4am chatting on the "CB chat" system to people in the US and baffling my grandfather with the idea that I could send a letter 3000 miles in about 1/4 second. Oh and the £250 phone bill shocker.

    Coincidently also joined Zetnet after them in 1994 - another longstanding bastion of the online world that I suspect will disappear pretty soon.

  37. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Logging off....

    scree, scrEEEch. psssshhs


    72632,157....signing out for good


  38. Gordon 17

    good old times, before the internet/www

    i remember "prestel and micronet800".

    the modem 1200/75 baud modem had to be switch to tx for incoming things and then rx for out going, so a message would be sent on tx, then you switch it to rx to get a reply. later ones did it automatic

    Not forgetting the "mud" multi user dungeon.

    The computer names, located in major telephone exchanges, known by code names such as "Dryden", "Kipling", "Derwent", "Enterprise", "Dickens", "Keats", "Bronte", "Eliot" and "Austen" (among others).

    it looked like the old bbc tv ceefax, was slow, and all done a zx spectrum 16kb/32kb and the spark tin foil printer. then the thermal printer.

    i spent many a time and money up in early hours talking to people up and down uk.

    then compuserve, aol, netscape, etc cam along with the new internet and all the www!.

    oh what fun we had, and you had patients, you waited, not like today.

    aol bought out netscape, and compuserve and let them die!

  39. Damian Skeeles
    Dead Vulture

    Scripted emails

    Wow... IIRC it was Compuserve for which you could get automatic scripts, for Hearsay on the Acorn Archimedes, and for the Psion 3a (on their terminal program). So you could actually write your mails offline in advance, and then the scripts would spool them into the terminal window for you and save you a fortune on your home modem, or GSM9600 connection.

    I used my work-supplied Compuserve account a fair bit for that reason - especially with all the international POPs they provided.

    Was it that long ago?

  40. John Latham

    I feel like....

    ...a part of me has just died. Or maybe that I've had an ingrowing toenail removed. I'm not sure.

    CompuServe provided my first job and many happy memories. Callcentre tottie FTW!

  41. RJX

    Trivia: Why were no digits higher than 7 used in CS IDs?

    Because the original computers used by CompuServe used octal and not hexidecimal.



  42. Sonya Fox

    Am I that old?

    I didn't think I'd ever get nostalgic about computers, but the first time I ever used the internet was in 1983 using a "state of the art" Kaypro II with a smashing 64KB of RAM and a 300Bps modem via CompuServe. That was so long ago 30 pound luggables like my Kaypro were still called "microcomputers" and they ran CP/M, none of that wimpy MS-DOS stuff. :) I was but a wee lass back then but it was great fun and a good way to waste time during the winter months. Its a shame to see them go, but not as much of a shame as it is too see great old companies like CompuServe, Maxtor and Compaq acquired then turned into low-end "value brands" by their purchasers.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compuserve & Lost friends

    Compuserve was my first email address... and with its passing there are now old friends who will never be able to find me... sad... I entered into the computing business late... at 21 years old... over 40 years ago. When CS was bought by AOL, against my good sense, I tried AOL. When my blood pressure passed heathy limits, (it didn't take long) I moved on to another supplier but I always kept CS.. just in case someone out there still wanted to find me.

    When AOL took over CS it was clear they had NO plans for its future. My thanks to the excellent CS Customer service team, both in the US and France, that helped me through all the years CS was being done away with . They permitted me to keep my CS port open until now. Hope they have found a good home.

    Sad passing...

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