Billion Dollar Deal Made Between AOL, CompuServe and WorldCom

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 8, 1997

AOL's Acquisition of CompuServe Helps Expand AOL's Content and Subscriber Base. Photo from news.cnet.com

America Online acquired CompuServe, the oldest U.S. on-line computer service.

CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates. Since the purchase of CompuServe’s Information Services Division by AOL, the CompuServe Information Service has operated as an online service provider and an Internet service provider.

The billion-dollar deal also saw AOL involved with WorldCom, a telephone company with hundreds of miles of high-capacity line. Under the deal, WorldCom kept CompuServe’s global data network and agreed to provide network services to AOL. The deal gave AOL much-needed cash to develop new online content and expand its base of 9 million subscribers.