Mary and I were forum sysops, more formally called CompuServe Business Partners, during the heydey of the online forums on that service.
I got involved in the early 80’s — first using an Atari 400, a 300 baud Don Stoner modem, and a MicroNet subscription (as CompuServe called its service back then). With some other ham radio enthusiasts, I ran HamNet, the amateur radio forum — one of the first forums on MicroNet. The late Don Stoner was the first HamNet SysOp. HamNet’s still around and now publicly accessible over the web.
After that, I started a Telecom Forum which had a section devoted to a minor topic called the Internet. That section exploded with interest — and eventually we had something like ten or eleven different Internet-related forums on CompuServe. CompuServe interconnected its email gateway with the Internet in 1989. I’ve found an old posting of mine from 1989 on Google’s Groups annoucing that email gateway.
Ah, those were the days. Back then we’d dive into the forums and read the new threads. We’d get our juices flowing and start writing replies to keep them moving. We’d prune the troublemakers, check the uploads for viruses, and do lots of other things for CompuServe.
Mary and I met several times at “BP Conferences” at CompuServe HQ in Columbus during the 80’s and early 90’s. Everything changed when AOL took over. I remember Bob Pittman coming in to talk to the business partners right after the acquisition. Lots and lots of promises about how great it’s going to be — major disappointments over and over again in the years that followed. We all thought of CompuServe as the premier enthusiasts service. Some idiot at AOL got it in their head that CompuServe needed to become AOL’s “value brand”. Everything got dumbed down after that decision.
I met many good friends online over the years on CompuServe — including “Doug Kaye” (see below!). Ah yes, those were the days!