Commercial on-line services began as information providers to their own subscribers. There were no connections to the outside. Created as complete, self-contained on-line resources, they provided information and entertainment including electronic mail, news, weather, sports, forums based on dozens of topics, gems, live keyboard-based chatting, shareware distribution, and more. By the mid 1990's, these on-line businesses offered connection to the Internet. They now own software packages that you can run on your computer to connect you to the service. Their subscribers now have access to the resources of Internet host systems, the most important of which is electronic mail. Subscribers can communicate with millions of other users at universities, commercial companies, and a host of other places. Few of the commercial services permit guest logins. For more information about commercial on-line services, please contact your local Internet service provider.
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