AOL has once again re-invented itself, this time by selling itself to Verizon for a hefty $US4.4 billion or $US50 a share.
AOL today is known for its internet advertising tech, particularly video and programmatic advertising.
But it began its life before the Internet (at least before the Internet as we know it today), as an online service that gave people an email address, let them read articles online, play games, shop and chat with others.
People subscribed to the service, paid a monthly fee and had to be careful how much they used it, because the monthly fee only included so many hours per month and they could rack up some hefty overage fees. (This was the pre-cursor to today’s mobile data plans.)
AOL got people to subscribe by mailing out CD discs with the software to access the service.
In the minds of many people, AOL will always be remembered for bombarding US households with CDs (an early form of spam).
AOL became so synonymous with unwanted CDs, that it acknowledged the problem in this commercial from 2003 with comedian Jerry Stiller. The joke was that a woman was excited to see an AOL CD arrive in her mailbox.
And while we’re taking a trip down AOL nostalgia lane, here’s an even earlier (and completely awful) AOL commercial, explaining the types of things you could do online.
My, my how far we’ve come.