Before we used the World Wide Web, we made do with The Source, an online service that transmitted information to dial-up subscribers. For an initial fee of $100, subscribers would access information by hooking up a terminal to to the modem. Afterward, they would be charged by the hour ($2.75 after 6 PM and $15 during work hours). Our writer found the system extremely convenient because of how quickly he would receive the news. "When Skylab was falling, for instance, I knew where it was before may of the local radio stations," he said. To access data, all he would need to do was type in a question and await answers on everything from stock market reports, the weather, and shopping services. Subscribers to The Source could even receive online text of magazines, email, and airline schedules, although our writer did note that receiving exactly what you wanted required typing extremely specific questions.
Read the full story in "With Plug-In Programs, Anybody Can Use These Personal Computers"