Back in 1992, the Internet was still primarily a government-funded entity comprised of research and educational websites. It wasn’t until Delphi began a national online provider service targeted for the consumer mass market that same year that the Internet as we know it today began to take root. This was an incredible time of experimentation, and the possibilities seemed endless. Businesses recognized the Wild West nature of the online world, and tried to be the Railroad Barons of their day, while others simply tried to fill a niche for modest profit.
One of the services offered was the GEnie (General Electric Network for Information Exchange), which began in the mid-1980s as a way of capitalizing on the little utilized time on the GEIS mainframe (which primarily served up business applications during business hours). By 1992 GEnie was offering multi-player games with “100% Organic Opponents” over their service, which you could access with your 300, 1200 or (if you were wealthy) 2400 baud modem. Games included BattleTech (MechWarrior), Air Warrior, and the Dragon’s Gate RPG. These were heady times, when you could blow a lot of money playing an online game ($36 per daytime hour!). With a user-base that could only grow as PCs made their relentless march across the North American landscape, GEnie seemed like a free money…to any other business than General Electric, that is. In another case of stuffed-shirt executives unaware of the technological changes taking place, GE’s management team did not expand the service’s infrastructure, and eventually sold it off to a company with even worse management, and by 1999 the Internet waved farewell to GEnie forever.
But enough of the doom and gloom of foolish executives and the remains of their companies strewn across the landscape of the Mighty Al Gore Superhighway! Instead, let us look back at GEnie’s advertising from 1992 (found in an issue of Dragon Magazine), when the world was puddle-wonderful with potential! Enjoy!