The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 March 2007

So pricey, these intarwebs

In the middle 1980s, when I started making a nuisance of myself online, I paid dearly for the privilege. Local dialups were free, assuming they were local calls. But I also had an account at CompuServe, which charged a variable rate per hour based upon your connection speed: 300 bps was $6 an hour, 1200 bps $12, and if you could find a node that offered 2400 bps, the tab was $22 an hour. Add to that an account at Dow Jones News/Retrieval, which during daylight hours (when they were busiest) charged over a buck a minute. (I used it only to check my stock portfolio, such as it was, which made the charges deductible, taxwise.) Besides this, I had two boxes at MCI Mail, which cost $35 a year and 50 cents per message.

Eventually these prices started to drop. I found in my archives last night my CompuServe bill from May 1997, when CIS was forced by market pressure (mostly from the likes of — gasp! — AOL) to abandon connect-time charges in favor of a fixed monthly rate. For April, I had paid $9.95, plus $3.50 for ZiffNet access (now ZDNet), plus $54.04 in connect time, apparently billed at $2.95 per hour. Connection speed was a spiffy 28800 bps.

Ten years later, I'm trying to avoid griping about my $42 monthly broadband (7 Mbps) bill, hence this little reminder of The Way It Used To Be.

Posted at 8:25 AM to PEBKAC


Our cable internet is over $50/month.

Posted by: Heather at 9:43 PM on 20 March 2007

They have a higher-speed option out here, which I haven't tried. It's well over $50, I'm sure.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:06 AM on 21 March 2007

QuantumLink was only $.60 a minute for Plus services. Basic was a monthly rate, I forget how much.

But it was only available from like 6pm to 8am.

Posted by: Brian J. at 8:48 AM on 21 March 2007

I remember the days of Compuserve. It was NOT a local call for us! A month after my then-husband started his account, we got a $600 phone bill. The next month was worse. We learned to capture what we wanted, then edit and print, but oh what a hassle. I'm glad those days are gone!

Posted by: Miss Cellania at 8:52 AM on 21 March 2007

I remember the days of Compuserve. It was NOT a local call for us!

Heh. Compuserve had a local number in Fairbanks in 1995 -- but AOL didn't. Of course, by then Compuserve could handle 14400 bps, but we only had a 2400-baud modem.

When I bought a new bugbox the following year I got 56kbps capability, but CS was still 14400. So I signed up for a local ISP that had what the FCC was allowing 56k-capable modems to actually achieve -- 53k or thereabouts, IIRC.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:17 AM on 21 March 2007