NATIONAL NEWS

Ohio gives historical status to building that once housed internet service pioneer CompuServe

Dec 21, 2023, 9:48 AM

A Central Ohio building that once served as the global headquarters for CompuServe has been recognized with historic marker status by the state.

At its height in the 1990’s, the pioneering tech company — one of the first to offer commercial internet services — was known by the public for online forums that offered news, message boards and data file transfers. The firm also introduced the GIF image format back in 1987.

“This may be the first historical marker about the internet. Most history is not recognized and celebrated in your lifetime, but this is and its really special,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted at a dedication event featuring state officials and former CompuServe CEO Jeff Wilkins. “Today we have a vibrant, growing tech economy in the state of Ohio. And it began right here.”

The company opened its headquarters in 1973 and, according to records housed at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, closed the location in the summer of 2006. Ohio’s historical markers program, started in the 1953, commemorates unique sites that shape state history.

Wilkins, who co-founded CompuServe in 1969, also attempted settle a classic internet argument over the pronunciation of the GIF image format at the dedication. He recalled a story about how Steve Wilhite, the engineer who helped create the format, once held up a sign at an awards ceremony read: “It’s pronounced JIF.”

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Ohio gives historical status to building that once housed internet service pioneer CompuServe