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When Mark Zuckerberg was five years old in 1989, two dominant players in telecommunications made a big announcement.
Compuserve (the first major commercial online service provider) and MCI Mail (one of the first commercial e-mail service providers) introduced commercial e-mail relays to the public internet. These relays connected their centralized networks to the public, outside of their direct control.
Facebook - Announcement - Trust - Era - Libra
Facebook's announcement of entering the distributed trust era with Libra, a new cryptocurrency, is the modern-day equivalent.
And it's likely to have the same result.
Compuserve - Innovator - Computing - Micronet - Consumer
Launched in 1969, Compuserve was an innovator in shared computing. In 1979, it launched Micronet, the first consumer e-mail system. This was quickly followed in 1980 with CB Simulator, the first real-time online chat service.
Compuserve quickly added a wide range of consumer information services such as weather, stock quotes and discussion forums. It tied people together globally through its its centrally owned worldwide network.
Compuserve - Online - Users - Service - Users
By 1991, Compuserve had more than 500,000 simultaneous online users. In 1995, it was the largest online service with over three million users.
It has since been called the "Google of the '80s."
Difference - Network - Network - Internet
But the big difference is that its network was private and centrally controlled. It was not an open network like the public internet.
Early coverage of Compuserve and MCI's gateways described the relatively unknown internet as a worldwide research network of government agencies, universities and commercial firms.
Uses - Internet - Public - Controversies - Time
This started to legitimize commercial uses of the internet for the general public, but was not without its controversies at the time.
Overall, the relays announcement helped give legitimacy and publicity to the emerging public commercial internet. It started the path to weakening the centralized power of Compuserve and MCI.
Announcement - Compuserve - MCI - Advantage - Opportunity
At first, the cutting-edge announcement by Compuserve and MCI gave them an advantage. It also gave them the opportunity to shape some of the initial public conceptions of the public internet.
Traditional industries started...
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