CompuServe, a pioneering online service provider, played a significant role in the early development of the internet.

Back to glossary

CompuServe, a pioneering online service provider, played a significant role in the early development of the internet. Its influence on cybersecurity, the focus of this glossary, is profound and far-reaching. CompuServe was one of the first companies to provide a platform for online communication, and in doing so, it helped to shape the cybersecurity landscape.

Understanding CompuServe's history, its contributions to the internet, and its impact on cybersecurity is essential for anyone interested in the evolution of online safety and security. This glossary entry will delve into these topics, providing an in-depth look at CompuServe and its significance in the realm of cybersecurity.

History of CompuServe

CompuServe, originally known as Compu-Serv Network, Inc., was founded in 1969 by Jeffrey Wilkins and Mary Ann Wilkins. It started as a computer time-sharing service, allowing businesses to rent computing power rather than purchasing expensive mainframe computers. This innovative business model was the first step towards the creation of the online service provider that CompuServe would eventually become.

CompuServe's transformation into an online service provider began in the late 1970s when it launched its first consumer product, MicroNET. This service, which was later renamed CompuServe Information Service (CIS), provided users with access to a vast library of information and online services. It was one of the first services of its kind, paving the way for the internet as we know it today.

CompuServe's impact on the Internet

CompuServe's contributions to the development of the internet are numerous. It was the first company to provide a consumer-oriented online service, and it introduced many features that are now considered standard in online communication. For example, CompuServe was the first to offer email and online chat services, setting the stage for the social media and instant messaging platforms that dominate the internet today.

CompuServe also played a significant role in the creation of the internet's infrastructure. It developed the first commercial packet-switching network, a technology that is fundamental to the operation of the internet. This network allowed data to be broken down into packets and transmitted over a network, a process that is still used in modern internet communication.

CompuServe's demise and legacy

Despite its early success, CompuServe struggled to compete with newer, more user-friendly online service providers like AOL. In the late 1990s, CompuServe's user base began to decline, and in 1997, it was acquired by AOL. Although CompuServe's online service was eventually discontinued, its legacy lives on in the many technologies and services it helped to pioneer.

Today, CompuServe's influence can be seen in many aspects of the internet. Its contributions to online communication, data transmission, and internet infrastructure have shaped the way we use the internet, and its impact on cybersecurity is equally significant.

CompuServe and cybersecurity

CompuServe's role in the development of the internet had a profound impact on cybersecurity. As one of the first online service providers, CompuServe was at the forefront of many of the challenges and threats that define the cybersecurity landscape.

CompuServe's early adoption of email and online chat services, for example, introduced new vectors for cyber threats. These services became targets for spam, phishing, and other forms of cybercrime, prompting the development of new cybersecurity measures and strategies.

Early cybersecurity challenges

CompuServe faced numerous cybersecurity challenges in its early years. One of the most significant was the issue of unauthorized access. As an online service provider, CompuServe had to ensure that only authorized users could access its services. This required the development of authentication protocols, which are now a fundamental component of cybersecurity.

Another major challenge was data security. CompuServe's services involved the transmission of large amounts of data, much of which was sensitive or confidential. Ensuring the security of this data was a major concern, and it led to the development of encryption and other data security technologies.

CompuServe's contributions to cybersecurity

CompuServe's response to these challenges contributed significantly to the field of cybersecurity. Its development of authentication protocols, for example, helped to establish the principles of user authentication that are still used today. Similarly, its efforts to secure data transmission led to advancements in encryption and other data security technologies.

CompuServe also played a role in the development of cybersecurity legislation. In the 1980s, CompuServe was involved in a landmark legal case that established important precedents for online privacy and data protection. This case, which involved the unauthorized access of a CompuServe email account, helped to shape the legal framework for cybersecurity.


CompuServe's influence on the internet and cybersecurity cannot be overstated. As a pioneer in online communication and data transmission, it helped to shape the internet as we know it today. Its contributions to cybersecurity, from the development of authentication protocols to its role in shaping cybersecurity legislation, have had a lasting impact on the field.

While CompuServe may no longer exist as an online service provider, its legacy lives on in the technologies and services it helped to pioneer. Understanding CompuServe's history and its impact on cybersecurity provides valuable insight into the evolution of the internet and the ongoing challenges of online security.

Author Sofie Meyer

About the author

Sofie Meyer is a copywriter and phishing aficionado here at Moxso. She has a master´s degree in Danish and a great interest in cybercrime, which resulted in a master thesis project on phishing.

Similar definitions

Firewall Cricket phone Video graphics array (VGA) Single sign-on (SSO) Frames per second (FPS) Instant messaging (IM) Compliance Algorithm Passkey Intranet Characterization Key fob DisplayPort Surface-mount device (SMD) Resource reservation protocol (RSVP)