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CompuServe signs off

AOL shutters classic dial-up provider

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CompuServe, the first commercially successful online and email provider in America, has been shut down by AOL after 30 years of service.

The original CompuServe — later renamed CompuServe Classic — was laid to rest July 1, 2009. In a message sent to its remaining subscribers, AOL urged customers sticking with cheap dial-up to move on to the company's surviving sub-brand ISP, CompuServe 2000.

CompuServe's online service for consumers debuted in 1979 and soon become synonymous with the online experience for a generation of computer users. It was the first service to offer electronic mail capabilities and tech support to PC users. By 1991, the company boasted having over a half a million users simultaneously online. At its prime, CompuServe's moderated forums were also the de-facto place online for the tech crowd.

Competing upstart services like AOL, however, eventually surpassed CompuServe in popularity by offering perks such as monthly rates instead of per-hour online access.

When AOL went on to purchase CompuServe's online services and browser software in 1997, the company was preserved as a separate service. After the acquisition, however, CompuServe as a brand became woefully neglected. For example, the latest version of the access software for CompuServe Classic is dated January 11, 1999 - for Windows NT.

And now with AOL finds itself at the brink of total obscurity, the online provider has finally unplugged its fore bearer.

It's important to note that CompuServe users will be able to convert their ridiculous classic 9 and 10-digit email addresses to the CompuServe 2000 service in order to retain their well-earned sense of superiority over youngster internet users everywhere. Nothing says stay off my lawn like 76453.1032@compuserve.com ®

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