CompuServe was, for many computer users in the 1980s, a bright vision of the connected future. You could send electronic mail to a correspondent, who would receive it practically instantly, or at least the next time he connected to the service, which might be weeks from now, since the connection was quite expensive. You could post messages in discussion groups where other like-minded individuals, which is to say individuals with no lives in the real world, could read them and debate them endlessly. You could download new software that would make your computer do wonderful and exciting things like converting from pounds to kilograms.
And CompuServe is still there. You can find an “About CompuServe” page on the site, where you will learn that the latest version of CompuServe, Version 7, adds “Support for the latest Windows operating system, Windows XP, for greater compatibility.” This will come as good news for those who were wondering whether the time had yet come to upgrade from Windows Me. Yes, the time has come. You will like XP much better.
The CompuServe site is a fascinating time capsule, taking us back to the early days of the century, when it might still be imagined that the Internet could be a kind of added-value option for an on-line service from 1969. What makes the experience all the more surreal is that the site carries today’s news, presented in the same format it might have appeared in back in 2001.