The Man Behind Pop-Up Ads Is Really, Really Sorry

No one really likes pop-up ads, and now we know who to blame for creating them.

Ethan Zuckerman, the man who made the first pop-up ad, has publically apologized for bringing something into the world that almost everyone hates.

“I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good,” Zuckerman says in his essay for The Atlantic titled “The Internet’s Original Sin.”

In his essay, Zuckerman explains how the first pop-up ad managed to get made and how that impacted the future of online advertising.

He created the first pop-up about 20 years ago while working as a programmer for, a website designed to help recent college graduates with web-hosting services. When no one seemed interested in the site, the company tried out a number of revenue models to get people interested in it.

Advertising and pop-ups are what finally made the company profitable:

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