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Popup ads

I wish there were a section talking about AOL's introduction of popup ads, the most infamous policy of its history next to refusing to cancel accounts.

Brief History and Praise

Background: modems connected two computers, not attatched to the internet, using telephone lines (now DSL). Bulletin Board Server BBS was a craze of home computers connecting to a bigger BBS sites having a large scsi disk drive, free software, user chat; often run by government or colleges.

AOL made a chain market of this: buying BBS stations (small buildings with modems connected to PCs) to serve AOL customers. AOL later upgrade to internet connection with Netscape web browser (before Microsoft IE Browser existed). There was some competition by telephone company run ISDN, but limited. (telephone companies have always used small buildings similarly)

But when Cable Internet came out: it was far faster and using government super-funded Cable Modem. All of those BBS stations filled Hayes modems and PCs? Technological paper weights (no easy upgrade path). Subscriptions fell.

But AOL saw this and invested in cable tv companies and had it's own cable access brand as well. The "diving chart" above is wrong: it does not show people subscribed to cable services that AOL owns large shares in.

AOL marketed (in wash dc area) by sending out free floppy disks that installed AOL software. People used these instead of buy floppies, and it was great advertisement. Thanks Steve!

AOL was a boon to PC sales it let many "PC dummies" and experts experience connection with modems, who otherwise would not have had time or not have figured out how. AOL always had nice shared content (software, media, chat, mail, news groups) and was pleasant to see and use.

The only AOL "criticism" was: during one period they limited where one could internet browse but only while connected to AOL. The policy was temporary.

Disgruntlement over user profiles

There is a notable thread of AOL history that is missing from the article:

At one time, most AOL users had an online "profile" hosted by the AOL Hometown service. When AOL Hometown was discontinued, users had to create a new profile on Bebo. This was an unsuccessful attempt to create a social network that would compete with Facebook. When the value of Bebo decreased to a tiny fraction of the $850 million AOL paid for it, users were forced to recreate their profiles yet again, on a new service called "AOL Lifestream."
AOL took the decision to shut down Lifestream on 24 February 2017, and gave users one month's notice to save off photos and videos that had been uploaded to Lifestream.[1] Following the shutdown, AOL no longer provides any option for hosting user profiles.
During the Hometown/Bebo/Lifestream era, a user's profile could be displayed by clicking the "Buddy Info" button in the AOL Desktop software. After the shutdown of Lifestream, clicking "Buddy Info" does something that provides no information whatsoever about the selected buddy: it causes the AIM home page ( to be displayed.

This information should probably go into the Criticism section, because each of these "forced migrations," culminating in the complete termination of user profiles in 2017, contributed to the disgruntlement of AOL's user base. (talk)


  1. ^ "AOL Lifestream Sunset Notification". Retrieved 13 April 2017.

Some mention of the film You've Got Mail?

I figured since the entire film was predicated on the concept of using AOL, it should at least have a mention somewhere in this giant article. Also, I don't post much on Wiki, just a few fixes here and there: do people actually read these "Talk" sections? Can someone confirm it by answering somehow?

I'm not sure where in the article a mention of the film would be appropriate; do you have any suggestions? Otherwise, perhaps we can just add a link to the film in the "See also" section. Aoi (青い) (talk) 20:12, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
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