WinCIM, lose some

The recent death of CompuServe Classic disturbed me greatly, partly because I had no idea it was still alive through half of 2009, and partly because when I first read the article, I couldn’t remember my old account numbers.

I first signed onto CIS (CompuServe Information Service, which nobody wanted to type all the way out in those days) back in 1985, using my trusty Commodore 64 at a startling 300 bps. At the time, I was 72030,117. I dropped the service after a few years, but returned in the 1990s as 73142,1451, this time with an actual MS-DOS machine. Lots of acquaintances over the years, and one actual friend: Dawn Eden, whom I met in one of the service’s music forums circa 1995. We lost touch shortly thereafter, but reconnected, thanks to this screwy blog stuff, several years later.

I don’t have a whole lot of memorabilia from those days: I’m pretty sure I no longer have my copy of CIM (I put off switching to WinCIM as long as I could, but then I put off Windows as long as I could, which explains this) in the Big Box O’ Defunct Software. I did turn up in my archives the text of a couple of emails from Roger Ebert — we had some brief discussion of Bad Movies — and, from ’94, what purported to be CIS addresses for Penn and Teller. (I was a major Penn fan in those days, since he’d been doing a column for PC/Computing magazine, which was usually about computers and/or Uma Thurman.)

Of course, anyone who remembers CIS also remembers the alternate version: CI$. At six bucks an hour, the tab piled up quickly. Worse, in the Eighties, they charged you according to your modem speed; those hotheads with 1200-bps modems paid twice as much as the plodders like me with 300.

If you’ve wandered by here and wondered “Why the hell is this guy on the Internet?” you’ve just read one of the reasons.


  1. McGehee »

    4 July 2009 · 6:58 pm

    My favorite CompuServe memory was the writers’ forum where, every February I believe it was, the moderators staged an insult contest. Given CS’s rules of decorum of course the tone of the invective was higher than typical in the larger internet, but it was the first occasion I had to really work at crafting a fine insult and be rewarded for it.

    These days, feh.

  2. McGehee »

    4 July 2009 · 6:58 pm

    …not that I ever won, nor even placed in the top whatever — but I got some hilarious feedback.

  3. Jeffro »

    4 July 2009 · 7:18 pm

    CompuServe was for all you dazzling urbanites.

    I had to wait until my local telco set us up – unless I wanted to pay long distance charges for any online activity. We got the astounding high tech 28.8 service at first.

    So I’m just a rank newbie.

  4. Brian J. »

    4 July 2009 · 8:22 pm

    Q-Link guy here, which was basic service for a flat rate, but cool stuff was 6 cents a minute.

    Between the hours of 6pm and 8am. Because, in the working hours, the computers at the access numbers had more important things to do than let you play casino games or chat.

  5. CGHill »

    4 July 2009 · 8:28 pm

    I actually ran a chat room on Q-Link for a while, which explains much I’d probably just as soon not have explained.

  6. Mark Alger »

    4 July 2009 · 11:06 pm

    I actually used OzWin, not WInCIM — which, IIRC, was a real dog. But I could dl messages from a round dozen forums several times a day in less than six minutes a pass.

    Of course, as a sysop, I got my service at reduced rates (any forum I sysopped on was “free” — even the free ones), but, still… There was a point of principle involved.

    I do miss the forum threading and the richness of the communities and — with OzWin — the ease of use. Nothing on the Web has EVER compared. The closest I’ve come has been listserv lists, but people don’t seem to like those. Never did figure out why.


  7. CGHill »

    4 July 2009 · 11:32 pm

    The original DOS-based CIM was way speedier than WinCIM, but this isn’t saying much. And my old C-64 did tolerably well, given its limitations, on a purely-text rendition of CIS.

    For about twenty minutes, Usenet was something like that.

  8. Michael Bates »

    5 July 2009 · 2:50 am

    I’m impressed you can recall your Compuserve number.I’m pretty sure I shut mine down about 14 years ago — shortly after connecting with IOnet, and shortly after it became possible to e-mail between the Internet and Compuserve.

  9. McGehee »

    5 July 2009 · 7:29 am

    My mother-in-law still had her CompuServe account up until relatively recently, when she finally got cable internet at home. But by then CS had long since converted its addresses to e-mail standard. The only part of the CS number my wife and I had was the “,2606”

    And while I can’t match Charles’ 300-baud, we did dial up CS with a 2400 that I had to install in my wife’s 286 because my 386 didn’t seem to have a spare port for it. Ah, the olden days when you installed hardware inside the case and then had to configure it before it could work. Kids today, they just don’t know.

  10. McGehee »

    5 July 2009 · 11:56 am


    The only part of the CS number my wife and I had was the “,2606″

    …that I still remember…

    At least I’m having a better day than Ambrose.

  11. Brian J. »

    5 July 2009 · 12:15 pm

    Jumpers, DMAs, and IRQs. Those were the days. You could actually see how it was configured, which beat out the esoteric locations for setting those interrupts and whatnot in the software back before plug’n’play.

    Also, I’d like to point out I was on Prodigy when I first got a clone.

  12. CGHill »

    5 July 2009 · 12:35 pm

    I had a presence on P* myself. (CMFW43A)

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