• Tag Archives CompuServe
  • CompuServe (1984)


    Source: Compute! – Issue Number 52 – September 1984

    It seems like there has been online dating for as long as there has been an online world. This ad from 1984 is for CompuServe, one of the centralized online services that were available before the internet came along or was easily accessed directly anyway. The marriage motif seems to be suggesting that you could find your future spouse on CompuServe and I’m sure that happened many times through the years.

    This particular ad is emphasizing one of CompuServe’s services called “CB Simulator”. Essentially this was a chat area with many channels and operated more or less like IRC or group text messaging. I guess they needed something from the physical world that people could relate to for the name since there were no cell phones or text messaging to speak of and chatting online was still a novelty. CompuServe wasn’t cheap though. I’m not sure exactly what the cost was in 1984 but as I recall later in the 1980s it was something a little less than $20 per month but then you paid by the minute for your online time as well. There were non-prime hours at night where certain services could be accessed without the extra per-minute cost though.

    This ad is from the September 1984 issue of Compute!. In 1984, CompuServe was accessible by pretty much any computer of the day that you could attach a modem to since it was purely text based. All you needed was a computer, a modem, a phone line and some terminal software. I can’t quite tell if that’s a VIC-20 or a Commodore 64 in the ad.

  • Compuserve (1994)

    CompuServe (1994)


    CompuServe was the first major online service provider in the U.S. with its origins going all the way back to 1969. It reached its peak in the early 1990s when it was surpassed by AOL. Of course, both were surpassed by the rise of the Internet and more generic Internet Service Providers soon after. CompuServe peaked around 1995 with about 3 million users.

    Like all such services of the 1980s and 1990s, CompuServe was a proprietary service. Internet service started to a limited degree in 1989 with e-mail being gated to and from the Internet. Web access became available in 1995. By 1997 CompuServe started converting its forums to HTML and in 2004 the proprietary interface was finally discontinued completely. CompuServe’s forums did not cease altogether until the end of last year (2017) after 36 years. Some of the active ones have found homes elsewhere on the Internet.

    The above ad is from 1994. $8.95 got you unlimited connect time and included various features including 60 e-mail messages a month. Some services cost extra.

  • Reach Out and Access Someone (1983)

    Reach Out and Access Someone

    (This article is reprinted from the September 6, 1983, issue of ‘The Village
    Voice’ and was written by Teresa Carpenter.)

    Las Vegas in the rain is about as cheerful as Guam. So last November when the
    storms that swamped Malibu swept inland to pound the roof and glass siding of
    the Hacienda Hotel, I spent a lot of time curled up under the covers
    contemplating the Future.

    The Future seemed a pressing issue just then because I was nominally covering
    COMDEX, a biannual convention where makers of computer hardware and software
    unveil their new lines in an atmosphere of matter-of-fact futurism. The truth
    of the matter was that I was a bewildered observer tagging along behind my
    spouse equivalent, Steven, who writes a column for ‘Popular Computing’, belongs
    to a little cadre of technology writers who cover these events with the espirit
    of prospectors in a new gold rush.

    One afternoon early in the convention week we went to lunch with another
    technology writer from ‘Time’ magazine. The two were swapping industry gossip
    when Steven stopped, turned to me, and said, not unkindly, “You can add
    something if you like.” That made me so uncomfortable that I didn’t return to
    the convention. I strode off as if I had some pressing business to conduct,
    played the slots a while, and ended up back at my room burrowed under the
    covers to contemplate my place in this new order.

    The technological cleft that had been opening between Steven and me went back to
    the previous year when we had both gotten Apples for word processing. Buying
    the computers was originally my idea. Once we got them home, we both learned
    word processing. I learned it faster. But I stopped there, while Steven’s
    fascination with the technology impelled him to go further. He fussed with the
    computer as if it were a beloved toy. He talked to pe