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CIS-ID

Posted on April 8th, 2014

Dave!This morning I needed to dig out a software manual from storage (remember when software came with printed manuals?) and had a small blue pressboard binder fall on my head. It looked familiar, but I didn't know why.

Remember when I was lamenting that I couldn't remember my CompuServe ID Number? Well, yeah, the small blue pressboard binder had all my CompuServe stuff in it... including my ID...

My CompuServe ID No.

Now that I see it... 70717,3107... I can't imagine how I ever forgot it. Those digits flow through my mind like my own name, because it was my name for a number of years. When I typed it just then, I didn't even need to take a second look, my fingers automatically keyed it in. Just like old times.

Somehow, I feel more complete than I did yesterday.

ALSO in the small blue pressboard binder... COMPUSERVE INFORMATION SERVICE RATES: 1984!"

CompuServe Rates 1984

A few things...

  • $2.00 per hour evening rates in 1984 is $4.52 per hour in 2014.
  • $10.00 per hour daytime rates in 1984 is $22.60 per hour in 2014.
  • Can you imagine paying $4.52 per hour for internet? $22.60 an hour in the daytime?
  • If you lived in Alaska, Compu$serve was $33.90 per hour... $31.64 per hour in Hawaii.
  • In 1984 I would have been a senior in High School working 18 hours a week (evenings and weekends) at a local shop... at $3.85 an hour, or $69.30 a week before taxes. Adjusted for inflation, that's $156.60 per week before taxes.
  • And I think CompuServe charged extra to access the internet through their gateway.
  • My access speed at the time was probably 1,200 baud. Just to put that in perspective, a typical 2.2 MB photo would take me 4 hours and 15 minutes to download. Not that digital imagery at the time was anywhere near that for consumer photography.
  • You can probably guess where every cent I had in disposable income went in 1984.

Wow.

All told, I'm currently on the internet for one thing or another at least 5 hours a day. That's minimum 35 hours a week... probably much more. Putting two hours of that in the daytime and three hours of that in the evening, in 2014 dollars I'd be spending $58.76 per day... $411.32 per week... just to get online.

And "being online" then sure ain't what it is now.

How in the hell did we ever make it out of the dark ages of technology?

   

CompuServe

Posted on February 27th, 2014

Dave!This morning I woke up in a panic because I could no longer recall my CompuServe ID number. I don't know why it bothered me so much... I haven't used CompuServe in decades and there is no earthly reason I'd ever need to know it... but it did.

After thinking about it all day, I'm sure it's something like 74724.1609 — but that's not it. Darnit.

There was a time I was more familiar with my CompuServe ID than my own birthday. For those too young or not geeky enough to know what "CompuServe" was, Wikipedia to the rescue...

CompuServe (CompuServe Information Service, also known by its acronym CIS) was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates.

While nowhere near as magical as the modern-day internet, CompuServe certainly felt more magical back in the day. Despite the fact it was glacially slow and massively expensive, it was 200% wonderful, and I would have spent all day using it if I had the time and money to do so. Finding new friends... joining common interest groups... exchanging information... downloading programs... doing research... even accessing a rudimentary internet gateway... CompuServe had it all. For a big fat price.

Luckily we all had Bulletin Board Systems to fill the gap. They were every bit as entertaining in their own way and, most importantly, free... assuming you could get past a busy signal.

Until AOL came along.

Cheaper, faster, prettier, more expansive, and a lot easier to use... AOL bested CompuServe in almost every way.

Just like the internet would eventually best AOL.

And everything else.

Still, nostalgia for the good ol' days dictates that I should still remember my CompuServe ID...

Nope. I got nuthin'.

   

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