Remember CompuServe?

CompuServeMagazineIt’s another example of how existing technology gets disrupted by new technology and fades away. CompuServe on-line dial-up service was the king of the consumer computer networks in the 80s and into the 90s but got replaced by the Internet. For many the service was the first experience into the online world. According to news reports this week, CompuServe Classic was officially suspended July 1, 2009.

CompuServe was one of the earliest consumer networks. With dial-up modem access it offered person-to-person messages, discussion forums, news and more. Since this was an example of utility computing, the business model was based on subscription fee added to the cost of a phone call for dialing in.

CompuServe got disrupted pretty fast by the Internet when the World Wide Web started to spread with the Mosaic browser. Although the dial-up network provided many services we now take for granted on the Internet, for example news, shopping, travel and so on, the proprietary model did not stand a chance. The Internet was, if you take away the dial-up cost, free. More importantly, the Internet was truly global. In fact, the generative nature of the Internet is so powerful. Anybody can add a service to the Internet. Just install a server somewhere and plug it to the Internet. While CompuServe was great, it was only extended by the private company running it. This is another example of how the generative platform tend to win, if freely allowed to.