CompuServe was an American online service, which was an important pioneer in the use of the Internet in private households in the 1990s. Today, CompuServe belongs to AOL. CompuServe was finally shut down on July 6, 2009.

  • 3.1 History
  • 3.2 pioneer of the Internet
  • 3.3 The " CompuServe judgment "


To 1979

The CompuServe Inc. was established in 1969 as Compu -Serv Network in Columbus, Ohio and was a subsidiary of Golden United Insurance Group Corporation. This let the newly acquired from its parent company or its computer processing power to other companies in order for them to use as a source of income.

1970 developed from this business idea a communications network that was established in 1979 under the name MicroNet the predecessor of CompuServe. This was the first service that offered users of PCs e- mail services. 1979 joined the mathematician and computer scientist Maurice Cox joined the company and became one of the leaders in the company.


Another fundamental innovation in 1980 was the real-time chat, sold under the name CB Simulator. 1980 bought one of the largest U.S. tax advisory groups, the H & R Block Inc., CompuServe for 23 million U.S. dollars. The rise of CompuServe walked continuously through the financially strong parent company and new developments. The electronics retailer Tandy took the CompuServe Starter Kit in the 1980s in the range and sold it a year 7,000 pieces. In 1987, CompuServe a still widespread today GIF graphics format. 1989 took 500,000 members the online service, and CompuServe began to Europe with the expansion.


As of 1991, recorded by the subsidiary of " H & R Block Inc." another huge climb, reaching the number of members of one million. This year, European users were able to use the service.

Of 1993, a gain of 73 million U.S. dollars was earned before taxes. Three years later, CompuServe had over 4.5 million users and became the largest commercial online service in the world. The company kept at his headquarters on 200 computers of the type DECsystem -10, the networked and were protected by uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). The entire administrative building in Columbus was heated by the waste heat from the computer. The data sets of CompuServe amounted in 1996 to more than 700 gigabytes.

1997 H & R Block sold the company for 1.2 billion U.S. dollars in WorldCom. This in turn sold the online-only service area without global access technology or the network node 1998 to AOL. AOL Europe and Bertelsmann AG in 1999 held 50 percent of the company. However, the number of users of CompuServe decreased steadily, while AOL itself were gaining. Both formed together with 21 million users of the world's largest online service. In addition, CompuServe was the first Internet service provider who offered alongside the current Windows versions (95, 98, 2000, NT, XP) and the Macintosh operating system and automatic dial-in configuration tool for Linux. Short term was also the CIM ( CompuServe Information Manager) for OS / 2 on offer, but was which only spread very neglected.

After 1998

AOL introduced the new software " CompuServe 2000 ' a - an AOL client that accesses instead of AOL content to those of CompuServe, technical things like e- mail but were made via AOL. The existing software and accessed via Host Micro Interface ( HMI) has been renamed to " CompuServe Classic". On the CompuServe forums ( Webview the HMI forums) accessed via the Internet.

AOL CompuServe taught more than ISP and closed most forums. Most forums operator attempted to summarize their existing forums, so as to make two or three not very profitable Forums profitable. However, AOL concluded from these and almost all opened some new forums as a replacement. The expectation that the concentration on a few new forums would merge the existing communities, was not fulfilled. Users of pre-existing left CompuServe forums, the remaining were insufficient to operate the new forums economically. The German support forums have been replaced by a new one, which was only accessible via the Internet - the number of users of CompuServe Classic decreased further. Then all German forums have been closed and set all advertising for Classic. The development in other European countries was - partially offset in time - accordingly.

CompuServe 2000 is not proven in Europe and has been completely set. In the U.S., " CompuServe 2000" cheap prices ( flat rate) and significant advertising a success.

Graphics format " CompuServe GIF "

In 1987, CompuServe one that still today widely used graphic format GIF, are relatively highly compressed in the image data. Due to the low transmission rates of the then available modems, this was a very significant innovation ( today's standard JFIF and Portable Network Graphics ( PNG) were developed in 1991 and 1998 respectively ). Because in a GIF file multiple images can be stored and so the transfer film-like files was possible for the first time, GIF was his former competitor far ahead. 1989 brought out an improved CompuServe GIF version, which also allowed for transparency.

The rapid spread of GIF was possible because CompuServe as a license condition software manufacturers only gave to mention his authorship.

While the company on the market plays virtually no role itself today, the " CompuServe GIF " is still in use on millions of websites. By October 2006, however, there was a danger of possible license requirements in the use of GIF files, so that especially the PNG format was defined as a free alternative.

Situation in Germany


CompuServe held in Germany in 1991 a private node network that could be used over the phone in several German cities via dial-up.

In Germany CompuServe was announced at the beginning of the 1990s, through the distribution of installed programs on CD- ROMs, the journals side dishes, but also offers numerous companies. Thus, the user could get the editorial of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday including the current title image. But the Vobis forum that Dr. Neuhaus Forum, Microsoft Germany forum dpa press releases, the Reuters Database, the German course information and the chip magazine forum contributed to the establishment at and so was the number of users in Germany in 1996 to over 200,000. In 1999, AOL and CompuServe together over three million users in Germany.

Before the German market entry of its competitors ( such as AOL ), CompuServe operational only in a few German cities POPs, which contributed to the nickname Compu $ erve: So for most users long distance telephone call charges of the former monopolist German Federal Post Office became due; came to the time-dependent CompuServe charges; due to the then slow modems to transfer files or pictures also took a long time.

On 31 July 2008, the remaining contracts were canceled and set of online services in Germany. The tariff " CompuServe Classic " which was technically operated in the United States, was set on July 6, 2009. This was communicated to members by e-mail 2009 on April 16.

Forerunner of the Internet

CompuServe was the early and mid -1990s, one of the most important pioneers of the Internet in Germany. By also for laymen to install access software and transparent pricing, the company made ​​a major contribution, to make it attractive also for home until then mainly operated at universities internet use. Private forums and an integrated e -mail client offered in addition to pure Internet an attractive offer.

While the German Telekom held until 1995 on outdated BTX system, CompuServe became the first mass provider of internet access in Germany. The Internet, originally conceived as a bonus to the substantial own content, the company brought quickly to the top of the online movement. The number of users soon reached the one million mark, although it initially were few dial-in nodes that had to be selected for most users on the then very expensive long-distance rate of Telekom. The software is distributed free of charge access for example, by computer magazines, new users were given a free quota of hours for testing.

By only CompuServe Customer accessible forums, the company remained still represented some time in the German market, even after the advent of the WWW, but was largely pushed the end of the 1990s, AOL and T-Online as well as smaller players from the market due to a failed pricing policy.

The " CompuServe judgment "

In Germany the name CompuServe is connected in the case law to the Internet with an important judgment: The District Court of Munich I, 1999, in a judgment in favor of CompuServe that Internet provider for the Information and Communication Services Act ( IuKDG ) not for the over can be made news server distributed content responsible. The corresponding principle of the judgment was literally

" (2 ) Service providers are responsible for external content that they make available for use, only be responsible if they have knowledge of the contents and it is technically possible and reasonable to prevent their use. "