CompuServe, Prodigy et al.: What Web 2.0 can learn from Online 1.0
These old-school online services may be shadows of their former selves, but they have a lot to teach today's online communities.
Computerworld - Everyone's abuzz about Web 2.0, and it's no wonder. Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are some of the Internet's most popular destinations, offering users unprecedented freedom to share content, engage in conversations and exchange ideas like never before.
How short our memories are. Before everyone connected to one massive Internet, a variety of smaller commercial online services with names like CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy, Delphi and, of course, America Online (AOL) ruled the roost. Some were launched as long ago as the late 1970s, and many were text-based with nary a graphic to be found. Each charged hourly or monthly fees to a national (and sometimes international) audience in exchange for access to its private network. In addition, there were many smaller Bulletin Board Systems, or BBSs, that were also accessed by use of modems and phone lines.
These services peaked in the mid-'90s, with millions of subscribers accessing their forums, download libraries, roundtables and special interest groups, discussing everything from computer programming to coupon clipping. They also provided a way for businesses to connect with their clients before the Web became ubiquitous. Be the content corporate or user-generated, kilobytes upon kilobytes of data -- which seemed like a massive amount of information in those days -- were available as fast as dial-up modems could download it.
Around the mid-'90s, the Internet, previously available mostly to universities and government organizations, expanded onto citizens' desktops, seriously threatening the online services' hegemony. Some online services became Web gateways, while others morphed into full-fledged Internet service providers (ISPs). One way or another, most tried -- and failed -- to compete with the more comprehensive and affordable Internet.
The recent ending of support for the old CompuServe Classic service prompted us to look back at some of the most popular commercial services. We'll explore where several of the most popular of those old-school services came from, what made them unique, and where they are now. Some of their characteristics may sound familiar, and you may wonder if Web 2.0 is really a new phenomenon, or if we've we simply come full circle.
Have your say
Whatever their individual fates, these services live on not just in memory, but in their impact on the development of subsequent online communities. Even today's social networks could learn a lesson or two from the old online services.
Founded: 1969 (as Compu-Serv Network); 1979 (as CompuServe Information Service)
Status: Available at CompuServe.com
CompuServe was founded in 1969 as a way for Golden United Life Insurance's computers to earn their keep via time-sharing to other businesses. The service expanded to the consumer market in 1979 (formally known as the CompuServe Information Service, or CIS) and was acquired in 1980 by tax firm H&R Block, which would also gobble up rival online service The Source in 1989.
The company contracted with networks such as Tymnet to share dial-up access numbers, giving CompuServe subscribers widespread access across the U.S. Access fees depended on your modem's rate: 300 bits per second cost $6 per hour, 2400 bps cost $12, and so on. (2400 bps seemed lightning fast back then but is inconceivably slow now.)
- Troubleshooting Common Issues in VoIP Learn more about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), including common VoIP metrics used, best practices in VoIP management and tips and tricks for...
- IDG Research Survey: Are you Paying Too Much for Your NMS? Feel like you're paying too much for network monitoring? You're not alone. This survey brief summarizes findings from research recently fielded by IDG...
- 2013 Network Management Software (NMS) Buyers Guide This white paper contains an independent comparison study of six different network management solutions and provides guidance on how you can choose the...
- Rightsizing Your Network Performance Management Solution: 4 Case Studies This white paper discusses challenges encountered as organizations search for the most cost-effective network performance management solution.
- Live Webcast 5 Steps to Assuring Quality of Experience In order to align monitoring and management practices with the true demands of the business, IT professionals must expand beyond traditional comfort zones...
- Live Webcast Master the Changing SAP Landscape with Performance Management SAP landscapes are not getting simpler. Gradually, business processes that used to be contained on a single SAP system now involve a range...
- E-Signature RFP Checklist Webcast If your organization is looking to adopt e-signatures, you may be overwhelmed by the number of providers that offer seemingly similar solutions. How...
- Navigating the New Wireless Landscape Thriving in the new wireless landscape View Now>> All Networking White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!