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History of the RV Forum, the oldest online RV community

Welcome to the friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing. We are the oldest online RV community. (Note: The following history is a work-in-progress; Check back periodically for updates).

The RV Forum was formed on Compuserve, also known as the Compuserve Information Service, and conformed to Compuserve's forum format and rules, using Compuserve's HMI forum software. The forum opened its doors in August, 1993 when newly-retired Ed Juge bought an RV and realized there were no online RV-related forums. He signed a contract with Compuserve to create and run the original RV Forum. Following retirement from Tandy Corporation, Ed traveled the country showing journalists how to file their articles & columns online. He used to describe himself as 'a semi-retired wanabee retiree', and his business card described him as an 'evangelist' (for online communications).

Participating 'live' in online forums was something of a challenge for RVers, partly because of the lack of landlines at campgrounds, the use of limited and expensive cell phone minutes, and generally slow connections. However, this didn't deter diehards who became known as 'Road warriors'. Forum members found creative ways to get online and to share their connections. One such example was the 'network' set up at the 1995 Plymouth rally; A forum staffer ran phone cord to all campsites, and rented s single phone line. Rally attendees took turns to use the line, and hoisted a flag on a light pole to let others know when the line was in use.

A major breakthrough came about with the creation of the first "Offline reader" (OLR) software, known as TapCIS. As the 'OLR' name implies, the OLR allowed forum members to read and reply to messages offline at their leisure. Downloading new messages and uploading replies took very little time. Over time, further OLRs were developed, including OzCIS, OzWin, Wigwam, and Virtual Access.

Compuserve was acquired several times, including by H&R Block who failed to invest in the company, and latterly by America Online who were focused on maximizing eyeballs on paid ads. This focus resulted in the introduction of new forum software with forum pages filled with numerous ads; AOL also limited message viewing to only 3 messages on a page which, together with the slow-loading ads and inability to use Offline Readers, made it impossible for our members to participate while connected via slow and expensive cell phone minutes or 'borrowed' landlines.

Forums also suffered the result of AOL acquisitions of companies such as Netscape; We'd see warm bodies from the acquisitions rotated in to manage forums until they found other positions in the company, or moved elsewhere; Most of these folks had little interest in promoting the needs of forums or our members.

The original staff of The RV Forum included Ed Juge (Wizop), John Wilson (Librarian), Joe Lacey (Public Relations), and Tom Jones (Message Sysop). Some time later, Ed agreed to recruit 'Section Leaders' to help manage the load of moderating messages and library files. The larger, active staff played a big role in helping members with their RV-related issues, and fostering a sense of cameraderie.

Another significant factor in building camaraderie among our membership was, and continues to be, the holding of rallies at different times of the year and in different locations. Many long-time relationships have been built among members as they meet and mingle in person.

Compuserve's first exposure of their forums to the internet was met with widespread concern among forum members. Folks were used to holding online discussions in a 'semi-private' environment, and many were initially uncomfortable with, for example, their names being visible to the world. However, this concern subsided, with some members chaging their user name to something less recognizable.

Each forum had a single 'Forum Home Page', written in simple html, as their primary interface with the web. Due to the fact that Compuserve's URLs were virtually invisible to search engines, a web site was set up with the rvforum.net domain to act as a portal and attract visitors from the web. This proved to be successful, as many new members were finding us via that route.

Ed Juge, founder of the RV Forum, passed away on March 31, 2003. The term 'Gentle Giant' was coined during a Virtual Wake held shortly after his death. It was about the best description I could come up with for this wonderful person. Anyone who met him knew instantly that this was someone special. Realizing he was seriously ill and increasingly unable to maintain the forum, Ed arranged for the Compuserve Contract to be re-assigned to Tom Jones, the current forum owner, in January, 2002.

Unhappy with the way things were going on Compuserve forums, RV Forum members voted at the 2005 Quartzsite rally to move the forum off Compuserve and to the web. Hosting was secured, software was selected, and testing by forum staff began in February, 2005. We opened the doors to our new home in March, 2005 and migration from Compuserve began. The Compuserve contract was canceled. Managing our own server environment and running/maintaining open source software was a new experience, and something of a learning curve.

Over the years, the forum has adapted to the new and changing needs of our members, e.g. in 2008 we opened a message board for RVing in the UK, and also opened a support board for Winnebago-related issues. A number of message boards related to recreation activities and hobbies were opened.

We have a number of pages that remember prior members and events, including:

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