Sad news: the CompuServe forums are closing down. Admittedly, they have been declining for years and the end always appeared to be inevitable. Still, it is sad news when it the shutdown is finally announced. Many online genealogists got their start on CompuServe’s Genealogy Forum.
You can read more about the closure of CompuServe’s forums at: http://bit.ly/2zKhN5T.
I feel especially saddened as I was the one who founded the Genealogy Forum on CompuServe in 1988. It was my first entry into online publishing and running a discussion board. While CompuServe canceled my contract years ago and I moved on to other things, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Genealogy Forum on CompuServe.
CompuServe was the largest online service for several years. The company made numerous changes over the years but, in hindsight, the changes were not enough to compete with that new thing called the World Wide Web. As the Web grew and grew, CompuServe kept shrinking and shrinking. Eventually, the reduction in customers led to huge financial constraints. CompuServe downsized and downsized, eventually selling the company to AOL.
By chance, I was in CompuServe’s headquarters building in Columbus, Ohio for a forum managers’ meeting on the morning the sale of the company was announced to employees and to the rest of the world. There were some long faces in the building that day! The following day, a V.P. of AOL flew to Columbus and spoke to the employees and then spoke separately to the forum managers’ meeting. He promised us that AOL would maintain CompuServe as a separate business entity and would not make any major changes. He lied.
AOL started making major changes to CompuServe within two or three weeks. Amongst the first announced changes, AOL canceled all the contracts of the forum managers. I left and moved to the World Wide Web. (In hindsight, I am now delighted with that move.) In the following months, most of the CompuServe employees in the Columbus headquarters were laid off and replaced with AOL employees in Virginia. The CompuServe headquarters building was soon empty and then was leased to a different company that is not in any computer-related business.
AOL soon encountered its own financial problems and that company went through several changes of ownership. What is left of the original AOL is now a Verizon subsidiary called “Oath” and the new owners continue to downsize.
“The King is dead, long live the King!”
In this case, the first “King” is the former largest online service in the world, CompuServe. The new “King” is the World Wide Web.