These two articles appeared in the January 1982 issue of Today, CompuServe's magazine for CIS subscribers, announcing ComLink, the original name for CompuServe Network Services.
CompuServe Incorporated has announced the formation of ComLink, a major new network service for the value-added network (VAN) market (see related story under the heading “Technology” [below]).
ComLink customers will be able to access their own host computers via the CompuServe data communications network, obtaining many of the advanced features that CompuServe customers have come to expect.
“We have initiated an ambitious network expansion program designed to bring the full advantage of ComLink communications to over 300 domestic locations by the end of 1983. The combined needs of CompuServe's remote computing customers, the CompuServe Information Service and ComLink customers will make this growth possible,” said Alexander B. Trevor, executive vice president, CompuServe network services.
Current market research indicates a high level of prospective customer interest in the company's new VAN offering. This is due to the CompuServe network's reputation for high reliability and responsiveness throughout the industry.
CompuServe has 26 commercial marketing offices across the country marketing computer services to more than 700 major corporations, financial institutions and government agencies.
CompuServe Incorporated has given birth to a third major business division which will allow the CompuServe Information Service (CIS) to be accessed in an ever increasing number of U.S. cities.
CompuServe now offers the communications services of its value-added network, under the name ComLink.
Through ComLink, the CompuServe telecommunications network will be available for the first time to commercial customers not using the company's computers in a time sharing arrangement.
The continued development of ComLink will greatly expand the availability of the CompuServe Information Service.
As ComLink reaches new cities, CompuServe Information Service customers can dial directly into the service, saving surcharges associated with alternate access through a supplementary network.
ComLink has already expanded to more than 60 U.S. cities. Plans call for ComLink to reach 120 cities by April 1982 and 300 cities by the end of 1983.
That expansion will greatly reduce the number of CompuServe Information Service customers who now must dial in through a TYMNET network telephone number. TYMNET is the common carrier telecommunications network used as a “back up” or supplementary network to ComLink. CIS customers who dial in through ComLink save the $2 an hour communication surcharge associated with dialing in through a TYMNET telephone number.
CIS customers consistently tell the customer service department that access through a CompuServe (ComLink) number is more reliable than through supplementary network numbers.
The reliability stems from the years of development and technological innovation which has gone into the ComLink telecommunications network. CompuServe began building the network in 1972 to link its many commercial customers to its computers in Columbus, Ohio. Today, more than 700 commercial customers use the network to access CompuServe's computers and the many value-added software programs available. CompuServe's commercial customers include one-fifth of the Fortune 500 companies, large financial institutions, mining companies and government agencies.
In addition to years of networking experience, ComLink's reliability also comes as a part of the physical construction of the network. The ComLink network has progressed from direct lines to multiplexers to packet technology to the current highly effective and efficient virtual circuit network.
One of the unique aspects of the ComLink network is enjoyed by CIS customers who utilize our home banking service under main menu item 2, Finance.
United American Bank customers access CIS and are switched to the bank's computers in Knoxville, Tenn. by the ComLink network. The switching activity is transparent to the banking customer and allows the customer to conduct banking activities within the security of the bank's own system. ComLink switches the customer back to the CompuServe Information Service when he is finished.
ComLink's network consists of many small to medium scale computer systems, strategically located across the country, which communicate data over leased lines and satellite circuits. These MicroNode computers, designed, built and maintained by ComLink's own data communications staff, communicate with each other and with other host computer systems.
The ComLink network's dynamic block size assures maximum throughput on transmission lines of varying quality, and, unlike other networks that depend on centralized control processes, ComLink's distributed intelligence guards the network against any large geographic outages.
The ComLink network's interconnected “ring” configuration provides reliable computer access from remote locations in a truly effective and efficient manner. The benefit gained from this flexible configuration, combined with intelligent alternate routing, is the most dependable service in the industry.
Each MicroNode in the ComLink network has its own Uninterruptible Power Supply system to ensure continued operation. The MicroNodes are also equipped with diagnostic control microprocessors and separate maintenance circuits. All MicroNodes feature multiple paths into the network, error detection and retransmission software and down-line software updating. ComLink also maintains alternate routes in the network.
All this adds up to a documented reliability rating of between 99.6 and 99.8 percent for “uptime” on the CompuServe system. CompuServe's computer technology and advanced networking knowledge together have achieved that remarkable statistic.
CIS customers should read the telephone number update section of the monthly Update newsletter to find out when ComLink access has reached your city. Current telephone access information is also available through main menu item 5, CompuServe User Information under “CIS Telephone Access Numbers,” or type Go CIS-174.
Also check the December 1981 Update for new TYMNET access commands, designed to speed your connection to CIS through a TYMNET telephone number.