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20 Years of AOL Annoyances and Foul-Ups
Written by Daniel   
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:43

AOL floppies and CDs. Sharon Stone's fling with the Running Man icon. The death of Netscape. It's all part of AOL history we'd like to forget.

Harry McCracken, Technologizer
Apr 28, 2009 6:00 pm

 Once upon a time--two decades ago this year, actually--a startup called Quantum Computer Services changed the name of its moderately popular online service to America Online and added a cheery e-mail notification recorded by an employee's husband: "You've got mail!"

As the 1990s progressed, the company lived up to the promise of its new moniker, doing more than any other to introduce the country to the online world. As the Internet took off, it served as the most important on-ramp to what was often called the Information Highway. And although today's AOL is no longer the country's dominant ISP, its services and sites add up to the fourth most popular property on the Web, from instant-messaging kingpin AIM to muckraker to video engine Truveo.

Over the years, it's also found a remarkable number of ways to drive both loyal customers and random bystanders bonkers, shooting itself in its corporate foot again and again through everything from monumental technical glitches to willful strategic decisions. Herewith, a 20th-anniversary retrospective.    [PC World...]    [Comments...]


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