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Online Services

Founded several years before 1980, the Compuserve online service really took off in the early 1980s. They didn't supply access to the Internet yet, but they did give subscribers the opportunity to send email and exchange files with other people across the country and eventually around the world. Compuserve operated a computer center in Columbus, Ohio, but they set up local modem pools in large population centers making it easy for subscribers to dial-in from anywhere. Subscribers could also use access numbers provided by TELENET or TYMNET if Compuserve didnt provide a local phone number for their town.

When people connected to Compuserve in the early 1980s they didn't have the graphic interface taken for granted on the Web today. Instead, subscribers needed to use commands and key sequences to perform the simplest functions. Even with its difficult interface, people joined by the tens of thousands. Other entrepreneurs took notice and decided to join the business, including Delphi, Genie (from GTE), BIX (from BYTE magazine), and later America Online.

Prodigy the first large commercial service to add a graphic interface to the bulletin board system. Using a Macintosh or Windows computer, subscribers could click on icons instead of typing archaic commands.

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