scheefj at netscape.net
Sat Jul 18 14:48:12 CDT 2009
Gee I'm sorry I missed this thread when it was alive...
I was a Wizop (76702,1654) on CompuServe for about 10 years beginning in
1990 when we opened the FUSE Forum at the annual conference held in
Boston that year. [FOCUS users will remember FUSE. Explaining FOCUS is
too much digression. I'm listed in the book "CompuServe A to Z" with my
original account number.] Having a legitimate reason to be on CIS just
fueled my addiction that began in 1985 shortly after installing a modem
in my still new IBM XT. The IBM PC Forum taught me enough about the IBM
PC to be regarded as an expert at work. I had a boss who recognized a
cheap training opportunity when he saw one and subsidized my online habit.
One of the things I didn't see in the thread was how CIS created its own
third-party industry. Specialized programs were written for just about
every platform that automated using the CompuServe Fora. Tapcis was my
personal favorite. Most of the program worked in a similar manner that
handled the entire online session to minimize connect time. Once you
joined a forum and added it to Tapcis, the next time you connected, the
program would capture all of the message headers in the forum and save
them to disk. You could them browse the headers (thread topics) at your
leisure and select the ones of interest. When you were ready, a second
logon session would capture all of the messages in those threads you
just marked along with any from previous sessions. Offline, you could
read and reply without that ticking clock. The program handled email as
well. With Tapcis and similar programs for the Mac, OS/2, Amiga, etc.,
you could use the service more while spending less. At first CompuServe
resisted these programs; but over time realized that they drew in more
avid users. By the early-nineties, CIS was consulting the authors of
these programs before making changes and helping the authors incorporate
sysop tools for managing the fora into the programs.
Compuserve was in the middle of implementing new forum software that ran
on Windows NT in about 1997 and realized that what they were doing was
not going to work with the Internet. They changed direction and
developed the truly excellent web-based forums that existed for several
years. Unfortunately the web-based forums gradually killed the old ASCII
interface and the forums died.
Within the company, the end began when AOL decided that CompuServe would
be their "price brand". The CompuServe fora were so totally superior to
whatever AOL called their bulletin boards, that spending money to
develop CompuServe became a political embarrassment for AOL management.
Another big factor was Microsoft's decision to move their support fora
to the Internet. At their peak they had at least 15 for everything from
DOS to SQL Server.
Keith M wrote:
> Ray Arachelian wrote:
>> I only got to use this service a few times back in my younger days, and
>> even then, only with the demo accounts, and that at 300 baud (yes, baud,
>> not just BPS.)
>> I really couldn't afford their insane prices, but from what I saw back
>> in the day, it was a huge, vast place with lots of goodies.
> I discovered compuserve from a flyer that was included with my Radio
> Shack direct connect 300 baud modem. It was "in-line", no acoustic
> coupler required. :) Set the switch to answer/originate, and then press
> the big red button on the right to connect. Literally turned the
> carrier on and off. The only phone that my parents could spare was a
> pulse-only phone. Thank god for the redial button. Made he** for
> trying to get into busy BBS's.
> I used endless numbers of CIS demo accounts to get access. The price
> was absurd, even at 300 baud. As others mentioned, the price scaled
> with the baud rate. Want 1200 baud, or 9600 baud? You'd pay through
> the nose. I always wondered who actually paid those prices.
> Good stuff though. I downloaded Pittsburgh BBS lists from there which
> really put me in contact with other TRS-80 COCO users (I had a CoCo II)
> and as they say, the rest is history. They had download sections. And
> was it access to usenet? and/or fidonet? Wasn't the form "GO _____?" I
> think they had online whitepages, and reverse phone number lookup.
> Once I discovered the internet, I completely forgot about CIS. I
> accessed CIS through the telenet dialups (as I assume everyone did?) As
> a kid, I wondered what other systems I could connect to using similar
> numbers. The numbers (did someone else call them PPNs?) were so dense,
> and security almost nonexistent for many of the systems, that I had a
> lot of fun times poking around.
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