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I Was CompuServe 73700,3344

My first remote computer access outside my home was via CompuServe in 1985.  I sat at my original IBM PC and connected via a Hayes Smartmodem 1200 to the service.  I spent lots of geeky time sucking text through that modem and its replacements.  I used CompuServe from all over the country as I traveled, and even internationally a few times.  It worked great and kept down the long distance phone bills.

Remember those?  Back in the day, we had to call long distance to a company's bulletin board service (BBS) to get info on hardware and software updates.  Mind you, you could not buy things that way, just read about them and maybe get a patch.

That octal user ID was a function of the PDP-10 architecture of the original system.  That worked great as long as things moved through slower modems.  I recall things getting clogged up as the cable modems arrived.

I even tried Prodigy, God help me, and found it slow and clunky.  I heard too many AOL horror stories to ever try the service -- though I got lots of CDs from them.  Both CompuServe and Prodigy worked well as long as you stayed within their sandbox.  Go outside the box, and things got harder.  I ignored the CompuServe 2000 stuff entirely and stayed with what became known as CompuServe Classic.  I canceled my service in early 2004.  I recall that it was not easy, and required several phone calls.  You could not cancel online.  My last email from that account was from an old Fawcette newsletter telling me how to "Build a Longhorn App."

CompuServe really had no way to compete with the wilder and wider web.  The fact that it has hung on this long says that the miniscule support was still covered by the few people who still paid real money to use it -- probably because it was familiar.  No more.  Goodbye.  It was fun.


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Copyright © Mark Treadwell