In the earliest buildups, each line terminated on a single machine at Compu Serve's host, so different numbers had to be used to reach different computers.Later, the central multiplexers in Columbus were replaced with PDP-8 minicomputers, and the PDP-8s were connected to a DEC PDP-15 minicomputer that acted as switches so a phone number was not tied to a particular destination host.
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Wilkins replaced Goltz as CEO within the first year of operation.
The company objectives were twofold: to provide in-house computer processing support to Golden United Life Insurance; and to develop as an independent business in the computer time-sharing industry, by renting time on its PDP-10 midrange computers during business hours.
Finally, Compu Serve developed its own packet switching network, implemented on DEC PDP-11 minicomputers acting as network nodes that were installed throughout the US (and later, in other countries) and interconnected.
Over time, the Compu Serve network evolved into a complicated multi-tiered network incorporating Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Frame relay (FR), Internet Protocol (IP) and X.25 technologies.
A complex deal was worked out with World Com acting as a broker, resulting in CIS being sold to AOL.
While continuing the original service, renamed Compu Serve Classic, AOL also used the Compu Serve brand for several low-cost offerings; Compu Serve 2000 was a rebranded AOL client with separate services, while Compu Serve Dialer was a low-cost dialup ISP.
Barry Berkov was recruited from Xerox to head product development and marketing.
In 1977, Compu Serve's board changed the company's name to Compu Serve Incorporated. The original 1969 dial-up technology was fairly simple—the local phone number in Cleveland, for example, was a line connected to a time-division multiplexer that connected via a leased line to a matched multiplexer in Columbus that was connected to a time-sharing host system.
Compu Serve Classic shut down in 2009, Compu Serve 2000 followed suit in 2011.
Compu Serve Dialer continues to operate as a Web portal.
Compu Serve developed extensive screening and reporting tools that were used by many investment banks on Wall Street.