CompuServe CB Simulator was the first online chat service. It was developed by a CompuServe executive, Alexander "Sandy" Trevor, and released by CompuServe in 1980.
At that time, most people were familiar with Citizens' band radio, often abbreviated as CB radio, but multi-user chat did not yet exist and instant messaging was largely unknown. CompuServe CB used the CB radio paradigm to help users understand the new concept. Like CB radio it had 40 "channels" and commands like "tune", "squelch", and "monitor." CompuServe CB quickly became the largest single product on CompuServe despite virtually no marketing. When 40 channels was not enough, additional "bands" were added, such as the "Adult" band.
The first online wedding occurred on CompuServe CB, and worldwide fans organized events to meet in the "real world" people they had met in CB. Compuserve's CBIG (CB Interest Group) Sysop Chris Dunn (ChrisDos) met his wife Pamela (Zebra3) there in the early 1980s, eventually being featured on the Phil Donahue Show. Later, enhancements to CompuServe CB were made to enable multiplayer games, digital pictures, multimedia, and large conferences. For example, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones held the first online multimedia conference using CompuServe CB from London on December 7, 1995.
One of the first online weddings occurred between *MilesTeg* and *Cinderella* on May 4, 1991. While the couple said their vows at the Silver Bells Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, *TennesseeBunny* was dialed in with a laptop and a 2400 baud modem and broadcast the event play by play. Later the couple celebrated at the "reception" during the Vegas CB Bash at the Palace Station Hotel. The wedding was attended by 20+ CB regulars in person and over 50 virtual guests online. The couple were still married as of 2011.
The CompuServe CB Simluator was also the setting for The Strange Case of the Electronic Lover, an ethnographic study by Lindsy Van Gelder examining the phenomenon gender-bending identity in the early days of online chatrooms, and how one user's exposure as a woman pretending to be male influenced a virtual community.
Read more about CB Simulator: Associated Software
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