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CompuServe was the first major commercial internet service in the U.S. It was known for the various innovations that it introduced, including its chat system, forums for various topics, software downloads for many operating systems and for its many online games. It charged hourly rates for usage, so it was quite expensive. It was also mostly a text-based client, and there was limited support for GUI clients.
CompuServe was also known as CompuServe Information Service (CIS).
CompuServe was founded in 1969 as a processing and time-sharing service, and was a major service throughout the 1980s. In the early 1990s, CompuServe was at its peak. It finally began to face stiff competition when AOL entered the field in 1991 and by 1995, it was overtaken by AOL.
The early CIS was a simple dial-up system. However, it slowly developed over time due to the introduction of newer protocols and newer technology in computing, such as faster and lighter computers. It became multitiered and supported technologies such as Frame Relay, asynchronous transfer mode and eventually, Internet Protocol (IP). CIS began providing internet service in 1989, though it was quite limited. It all started when it gave users the opportunity to use internet-based email addresses in their email service. It became immensely popular during the early 1990s, mainly due to its forum services which had millions of users and members. These forums even included customer support forums where companies resolved the problems of their customers, and promotions for movies, such as the movie “Sneakers.” However, it fell from popularity after AOL was introduced, as the latter had much better features at a much lower cost.