During the 1980s, CompuServe was the undisputed king of online communities. Founded in 1969 as Compu-Serv Network, Inc., the company got its start providing in-house computer processing support for Golden United Life Insurance, as well as by selling mainframe time-sharing. This of course was in the days when both computers were very big and very costly to own.
Fast forward to the ’80s, and CompuServe — owned then by H&R Block — began to experience tremendous growth. Their subscriber base jumped from 3,600 in 1980 to 60,000 by early 1984. By 1993 the service had more than 1.5 million subscribers, 90,000 of whom were in Europe. But the rise of competing services such as America Online and Prodigy ultimately spelled doom for this pioneer. AOL essentially bought CompuServe (although the deal was more complicated than that) in September 1997, and shut it down for all intents and purposes in July 2009.
In remembrance of the once-great company, here is a gallery of CompuServe ads spanning the from the company’s 1980s heyday to its acquisition in the late 1990s. Most of these were sourced from the wonderful Google Books library unless otherwise noted.