Om Malik pointed out that AOL has turned out the lights on CompuServe after 30 years of service. Om told a great story of how CompuServe played a role in his profession as a technology writer, and based on his career, a great role it played. I remember CompuServe when it WAS the Internet. There were no web sites, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter, nothing.
CompuServe was the place where geeks could congregate and discuss geek stuff. In those early years, the only other places where geeks could get together virtually and share experiences about using those new computer things were local bulletin board systems (BBSs). CompuServe was amazing to us, as it formed a place where lots of BBSs could form in one place, and thousands of geeks flocked to the service.
We were all connecting via super-fast 2400 baud dial-up modems, and a lot of effort was spent to make sure we were connecting via local numbers; long-distance geekery was just too expensive. In spite of all the obstacles to building this unique global community CompuServe grew massive and was a glimmer in the geek’s eye of how great the web could and eventually would be.
I got my first taste of online service on CompuServe. I was invited by IBM to moderate its Aptiva forum on the service. Aptiva was IBM’s home computer line at the time, and the forum was a great place to test my toes in the water of the online community. I had a blast working in that forum, and it paved the way for my work today.
So long, CompuServe. You were an extremely important chapter in the web’s history. You brought the geek world together and showed us what community and social networking could be in its simplest form. You will be missed.