AOL, the Sound of the World Wide Wait

Verizon buys AOL along with the Huffington Post, some ad technology properties that are a dime a dozen these days, and a bunch of other stuff for a measly $4.4 billion – and totally overpays. It doesn’t matter to Verizon. It already has $226 billion in liabilities. So to heck with those $4.4 billion. How times have changed since AOL’s catastrophic and desperate merger with Time-Warner. The mergers are still the same. Only the numbers are different.

AOL was my first email service. At the time – the era of dial-up – the Internet was called “World Wide Wait.” Too many people dialed in, not enough modems were at the other end.

You were supposed to use AOL as a portal for all your internet activities. You didn’t even need a separate browser. The thrilling signature voice, “You Got Mail,” indicated you weren’t alone anymore. It was so cool it was turned into a movie title.

Netscape came around, and its stock soared, remember? Then came the browser war, which Netscape lost. Another bubble stock that blew up and got bought by AOL.

I switched to broadband in 2000. It killed AOL. Why pay for dial-up, or email? It has been 15 years since AOL died.

So here’s a trip down memory lane. The only thing missing is the part about the World Wide Wait.

For the younger generation: that’s what it used to sound like in the Stone Age of the 1990s as you were trying to get on the Internet. When you heard that sound, it was like music. You knew the wait was over, and the doors would open soon to the magic of the Internet – and email:

I have never once missed AOL. Or dial-up. Time has moved on and has left AOL behind. So now it’s Verizon’s problem.

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  3 comments for “AOL, the Sound of the World Wide Wait

  1. Egbert_S says:

    Remembering one of my first modems : 56.600 bps speed. The name of the producing company sounds very cool – U.S. Robotics.

    @Wolf: A funny commercial with Boris Becker for AOL from 1999. “Ich bin drin.”

    • Wolf Richter says:

      thanks. I forgot all about those ads – telling us how easy it was to get on the internet with AOL…. That’s pretty funny from today’s point of view.

  2. Michael Gorback says:

    I started out with a 300 baud Volksmodem and connecting to private BBS services. Modem makers like US Robotics were some of the hottest stocks of the 90s.

    No one who surfed back then on the BBS dialup services and then AOL/CompuServe/Prodigy will ever forget the sound of a modem handshaking.

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