CompuServe Pacific, which is supported in this region by Fujitsu, has shocked users by bluntly telling them it is pulling the plug at midnight August 31.
A Fujitsu spokesperson Liz Greene confirmed the notification today, saying the shut down was driven by CompuServe's parent AOL.
"No, Fujitsu is not closing CompuServe Pacific down," Greene says. "CompuServe Pacific's parent company, AOL, is closing the service. Fujitsu is a sub-contractor to CompuServe Pacific, providing technical helpdesk and billing support to CompuServe Pacific customers."
Greene said her understanding was the number of active accounts was "fairly small". Customers in Australia, New Zealand will be affected as well as a handful in South East Asia.
CompuServe was one of the first to offer in New Zealand what was then a new-fangled thing called email; it has been running here since the early 90s.
Back then it was Windows 3.11-based, but it was fast, robust and reasonably priced. Although the monthly subscription of $17 for up to two hours, then nine cents a minute, was competitive in that market, CompuServe failed to keep pace with other ISPs as the web grew in power and they dropped their charges to a few dollars for unlimited access.
CompuServe began in 1969 in Ohio, the first major online service in the US. In 1980 it was acquired by H&R Block and by the mid 1980s it was one of the largest information and networking services companies on earth.
Its business information sites were one of its great strengths; and its moderated forums, which were popular in the 90s, were the forerunner of today‘s web discussion sites.
In 1998, a three-way deal between H&R Block, Worldcom and AOL saw CompuServe Network Services and CompuServe Information Service split between the latter.
H&R Block ended up with $US1.2 billion for a company it had paid $20 million for. Then began CSserve‘s long slide downward, from its then total of around 35,000 Pacific customers and millions worldwide.