online service - Computer Definition
(1) An organization that provides an information service over the Internet. Examples are search engines, cloud storage services and application service providers.
(2) An organization that provides access to the Internet. See ISP.
(3) An earlier organization that provided proprietary content online. Before the Internet was offered to the general public, online services such as AOL and CompuServe contained a unique mix of databases and resources available via dial-up modems. If e-mail was provided, it could only be sent to members of the same service. After the Internet became popular, all the proprietary services provided Web access to their content. Proprietary e-mail systems were either switched to Internet mail protocols (SMTP) or their formats were routinely converted back and forth to the Internet format. The following online services predate the Internet explosion of the mid-1990s and are here for historical purposes. See portal. America Online, Inc. (AOL) Internet access, variety of databases www.aol.com CompuServe Information Service, Inc. Internet access, variety of databases www.compuserve.com DataTimes Corporation Newspapers, magazines, financial www.cambiumlearning.com DIALOG (ProQuest company) Largest collection of databases www.dialog.com Dow Jones Interactive (now Factiva.com) Finance, daily news & news searching www.factiva.com Genie (now defunct) Internet access, BBSs, roundtables LexisNexis Legal and news information www.lexisnexis.com National Library of Medicine MEDLINE and MEDLARS databases www.nlm.nih.gov Prodigy (owned by SBC in 2001 merged into AT&T in 2005) Internet access, variety of databases www.prodigy.com Questel - Orbit Patent, trademark, scientific, chemical, business and news information www.questel.orbit.com West Publishing/WESTLAW (Thomson Reuters company) Legal databases www.westpub.com