After three decades, current owner AOL decides to pull the plug on CompuServe Classic, formerly one of the Internet's premier service providers. Although its forums and other services once attracted hundreds of thousands of users, CompuServe eventually lost ground to services such as AOL and as its subscriber base migrated from dial-up services to broadband. AOL plans to port CompuServe's e-mail subscribers to a new system.
After 30 years, CompuServe Classic was finally shut down for good by AOL.
Throughout the 1980s and early '90s, CompuServe was a premier Internet
provider, attracting users to its forums and other services. It was one of the
dial-up networks that Bill
Gates obsessed about in the early 90s,
with companies such as AOL helped expand the Web into the popular
However, it eventually lost market share to AOL
and Prodigy, which undercut its prices. The transition of Internet users from
dial-up to broadband also ate away at CompuServe's subscription base; at its
height, the service had supported over 500,000 users online simultaneously.
CompuServe was notable for offering its offering subscribers 9- to 10-digit
user IDs, which later became something of a nostalgia item for users who
subsequently moved on to more modernized (and word-based) handles.
In early 1998, CompuServe was sold to AOL
via a complicated stock transaction in which WorldCom acted as intermediary. AOL
acquired the CompuServe Information Service section of the company, while
WorldCom kept the CompuServe Network Services section, which it renamed
WorldCom Advanced Networks. WorldCom would later go bankrupt and return as MCI,
which would eventually be purchased by Verizon.
The portion of the company acquired by AOL
continued on its merry way, the CompuServe name still intact. Although
CompuServe's software platform will be shut down, those users who voted to stay
along for the ride to this point now have the option of porting their existing
CompuServe Classic e-mail addresses over to a new e-mail service, accessible here.
CompuServe Classic is survived by CompuServe 2000, a newer version that AOL
has said will continue to operate. AOL
itself is said to be in negotiations to split from Time Warner, with which it
merged in 2000.