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25-Nov-2019 16:13

AOL's entry into the PC market in 1991 marked the beginning of the end for CIS.

AOL charged .95 an hour versus .00 an hour for Compuserve, until 1996, when AOL switched to a monthly subscription instead of hourly rates, so for active users AOL was much less expensive.

A complex deal was worked out with World Com acting as a broker, resulting in CIS being sold to AOL.

While continuing the original service, renamed Compu Serve Classic, AOL also used the Compu Serve brand for several low-cost offerings; Compu Serve 2000 was a rebranded AOL client with separate services, while Compu Serve Dialer was a low-cost dialup ISP.

The company objectives were twofold: to provide in-house computer processing support to Golden United Life Insurance; and to develop as an independent business in the computer time-sharing industry, by renting time on its PDP-10 midrange computers during business hours.

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Both services were operating in early 1979, being the first online services.One of these was the Financial Services group, which collected and consolidated financial data from myriad data feeds, including Compu Stat, Disclosure, I/B/E/S as well as the price/quote feeds from the major exchanges.Compu Serve developed extensive screening and reporting tools that were used by many investment banks on Wall Street.Later, the central multiplexers in Columbus were replaced with PDP-8 minicomputers, and the PDP-8s were connected to a DEC PDP-15 minicomputer that acted as switches so a phone number was not tied to a particular destination host.

Finally, Compu Serve developed its own packet switching network, implemented on DEC PDP-11 minicomputers acting as network nodes that were installed throughout the US (and later, in other countries) and interconnected.

At its peak in the early 1990s, CIS was known for its online chat system, message forums covering a variety of topics, extensive software libraries for most computer platforms, and a series of popular online games, notably Mega Wars III and Island of Kesmai.