CompuServe, the first major online commercial service, has been shut down by AOL. AmericaOnline, the current owner of CompuServe, has confirmed the passing of CompuServe Classic in a message sent to subscribers last week. The company had announced plans to shut down the service back in April, urging customers still dependent on dial-up services to move to a surviving version, CompuServe 2000.
The correlations between CompuServe and the USENET in both their history provides many similarities. Both systems provided online access to many first users as well as providing discussion forums on a variety of topics. In those days, everything that we now think of as being part of the Web was only available in far smaller, text-based portions on online services like AOL, BIX, CompuServe, Delphi, Prodigy and the USENET newsgroups. Lastly, USENET and CompuServe are both 30 years old.
The original CompuServe service, first offered in 1979, provided its users with unique addresses and was one the first major online service alongside USENET.
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 has been shut down.
Tellingly, the current version of the service’s client software, CompuServe for Windows NT 4.0.2, dates back to 1999. CompuServe Classic has ceased operating as an Internet service provider and its services are slated to be taken offline. AmericaOnline itself is slated to be decoupled from Time Warner. Meanwhile, USENET continues to thrive.