RIP CompuServe, at Least Sort of

By  |  Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

CompuServeFolks are noticing that CompuServe Classic–the most direct descendant of the online service that debuted in 1979–discontinued service at the end of last month. (As far as I know, Robert Anthony was the first blogger to pick up on this, and he has written an eloquent elegy.) The sort-of-recent CompuServe 2000 service is soldiering on, and CompuServe remains a cheapo ISP and low-rent Web portal. But if you ever had one of those weird and archaic numeric CompuServe IDs, it’s a sad moment–even though you, like me, probably thought that CompuServe Classic died eons ago.

(My CompuServe ID was 74352,1314–I think. I haven’t used it since 1998 or so, and was always more of a BIX man.)

It’s a pretty ignominious passing for a once mighty service, and it’s not even clear that everyone at CompuServe has noticed–its site still lets you download CompuServe Classic software that’s now apparently useless. After the jump, a few CompuServe ads that date from the era when it was a great big deal.

This one taunts AOL for its reputation for producing busy signals, and dates from before AOL bought CompuServe:



10 Comments For This Post

  1. Scott Beamer Says:

    I remember CIS well. I met a former GF on there in 1994. I also remember how obsenely priced the worthwile parts of it were (especially when you adjust said prices today for inflation).

    I spent a lot of money there, but I loved it.


  2. George Brickner Says:

    I joined CompuServe as a beta tester about May, ’79.
    They opened the doors to paying customers on July 1st, ’79. That’s when I got my PPN 70040,104. The initial service was called MicroNET and was primarily a command line time sharing environment.
    About a year later, they launched the CompuServe Information Service with a simplified menu. This was all in ASCII, there were no graphics.

    As time passed and they lost market share, they out-sourced the forums to Prospero in 2004. The web UI was a rehash of the DelphiForums UI and not as good.

    Once access to the forums were open to the Internet at large, a CIS account was unnecessary and I terminated my 25 year-old Classic account.

  3. no Says:

    I guess I never saw the need for these services. I was always content to access the actual internet. You know.. directly. Then again, I was only about 14 when I first started accessing the internet (and the web, usenet, etc) in 1992-ish.

  4. riflessioniquotidiane Says:

    YES i remember it.

  5. John Alessi Says:

    We used to have a CompuServe area for our company support. It was all that before the Internet took off. I can not remember our id.

  6. Hoechstetter Interiors Says:

    RIP Compuserve.

    I got my online start there in the early 90s, and made a lot of friends I’m still in touch with and close with to this day. Sadly, it’s been largely dead for those of us who were around since early on for a long time, no one is really surprised by this, and I gave up my own account 76300,363 long ago, but it’s sad that the demise is finally this official. There’s really no other substitute for it, and I still miss the closeness and cameraderie we had there.

    It’s good to see more familiar names here, though, and gradually popping up here, there, and the other place. I’d invite anyone who isn’t already there to join LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, as I’ve connected with a lot of the old crowd there. If we knew each other on CIS, please say hello and invite me to join your network!

    Wendy Hoechstetter

  7. Bill Sodeman Says:

    I was on CIS a lot between 1987 and 1993. After that, I migrated to the Internet – but I missed the people that I met on CompuServe.

    I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks if anyone is looking to reconnect.

  8. allan Says:

    hmm . . .apparently compuserve’s FTP site is still going strong at

    it looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2007 but there’s still some cool stuff on there. check out the cindy margolis file in the “communities” folder

  9. charlie whitcomb Says:


    your coverage of Compuserve and the history of laptops and “everything becomes obsolete”, origins of Clippy, “golden age of games” makes me wonder if you work for the Computer History Museum?

    This baby boomer loves your stuff.. I’m 65 and find technologizer just the right mix of new and old. keep writing about old stuff – i love it. I’m old to.. but not obsolete (pun was intended)

    tip… you should do a story on old error messages

  10. Ariana Coleman Says:

    My grandpa is also a Baby Boomer and we love him a lot.,:.

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    […] early powerhouse of connecting people online before the era of the web. And at the end of June AOL killed off CompuServe Classic which was the last surviving bit of that service, the only thing now left is a tombstone “web […]