COMPUSERVE: CONNECTiNG ThE
by LAWRENCE ESTEp, AC TEIECOMMUNiCATiONS EdiTOR
History In The Making
Little did they know in 1969, when a computer timesharing service was started, or in 1979 when this timesharing service entered the online information service industry, that it would grow into a leading worldwide provider of online information services for personal computer users. The company is CompuServe Information Services (CIS) headquartered in Columbus, Ohio USA. CIS can be accessed via a local phone call or gateway network from most U.S. cities and more than 120 countries. An 800 number is also offered for access from remote areas where a local connection may not be available. Members always feel secure in knowing that help is only a phone call or Electronic Mail message away. Over 1600 employees worldwide, including over 175 Customer Service Representatives, are on hand to provide assistance to CompuServe's 1.3 million customers across the globe.
Connecting The 8-Bit Community
Over 350 discussion forums on almost every imaginable topic are available, including an Atari Users Network (GO ATARINET) that contains the Atari 8-bit Forum (ATARI8), an old favorite for the 8-bit community. The forum contains message bases dealing with topics ranging from software/hardware discussions to a Magazine Notes base that allows Atari publications such as AC to provide an easy route for questions and correspondance. Another invaluable feature is the file libraries that contain over 5,000 files. Whether you're looking for a classic from days gone by, or the latest version of your favorite program, this is the place to look.
SysOp Don Lebow, a member the 8-bit Forum staff which also includes Bob Puff (author of BobTerm and other 8-bit programs) keeps the file libraries up-to-date and is always willing to point a user in the right direction. "Unlike a few years ago, if you have a program that's acting up or just want to buy a new piece of equipment or software, finding somewhere to turn isn't easy. I hope we provide that kind of place", muses Don. Another thing that makes the 8-bit Forum a favorite of many users is the "family" atmosphere that permeates the Forum. Many users who have moved on to other platforms still come back for frequent visits- almost like a family reunion. According to Don, "The neatest thing is to find them coming back, pulling out the system, and getting back to work on it. That speaks highly of the machine itself." I think it also speaks highly of the CIS 8-bit Forum as well.
Another valuable feature for 8bitters is the newly added Shareware Registration area (GO SWREG). In this area you can register several favorite 8bit programs including Jeff Potter's APACView and Bob Puffs BobTerm. Also, CompuServe's Internet connection allows access to the Info-Atari8 Digest discussion group, and the most recent Digests are available in the 8-bit file libraries of ATARI8.
Debra Young (Corporate Communications) and Jamie Grove
(Customer Service) discuss the busy day ahead at
CompuServe's "Mission Control" Customer Service Headquarters.
Much More To Offer
CompuServe offers many other things besides the computer and hobby/profession oriented forums. The CB Simulator (GO CB) offers live electronic chat where you can meet new friends or catch up with old ones. Users have an electronic newsroom at their fingertips 24 hours a day with many features such as Associated Press Online (GO APO), and National Weather Service reports for around the country (GO WEATHER). Travelling and shopping are quick and easy with the many electronic reservation services (GO TRAVEL) and the Electronic Mall (GO MALL) that contains over 100 merchants. The whole family can enjoy fun and excitement in the games area (GO GAMES) that includes the very popular real-time multi-player trivia game "You Guessed It!" (YGI). CompuServe also offers a wide range of research and reference services from medical information databases to an electronic yellow pages (GO REFERENCE).
Operations Supervisor Mike Merullo checks
out one of the mainframe processors at
CompuServe's world headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.
CompuServe's Standard Pricing Plan offers unlimited access to many popular "basic servies" such as electronic mail, travel, shopping, and games for only $8.95/month. Other "extended services" such as CompuServe forums are billed in one-minute increments of $8.00/hour for 1200-2400 baud. For more information or to receive a sign-up package that includes a $15 extended services usage credit and the first month of basic services for free, call 1-800-524-3388 in the U.S. and ask for Operator #198. Outside the U.S., call 0800 289 378 in the United Kingdom, 0130-3732 in Germany, 155 3179 in Switzerland, and (614) 457-0802 outside these areas.
[Editor's comment. Whether you subscribe to CompuServe, GEnie, Delphi, Internet, the International Atari Network, or even just a local BBS, I'll reiterate the philosophy here at AC, to wit. "Every 8-bit should have a modem attached!". As small and scattered as our community is, without modems we would all just wither on the vine. National and worldwide networks are a lifeline to other Classic Atari users. This magazine would never have been born, and absolutely could not exist, without telecom networks. Get a modem. Go online. Somewhere, where, just do it! BP]