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AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised
Franchising
Franchising is the practice of using another firm's successful business model. The word 'franchise' is of anglo-French derivation - from franc- meaning free, and is used both as a noun and as a verb....

 its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services. AOL is headquartered in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, but has many offices throughout cities in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, like Atlanta, Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Beverly Hills, Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Detroit, Dulles
Dulles, Virginia
Dulles, Virginia is an unincorporated area located in Loudoun County, Virginia, part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The headquarters of Orbital Sciences Corporation, GeoEye, and ODIN technologies and the former headquarters of MCI Inc...

, Mountain View
Mountain View
-Canada:*Mountain View County, Alberta, a municipal district*Mountain View, Alberta, a hamlet in Cardston County*Mountain View, Ontario, a community in Prince Edward County*Mountain View No...

, San Francisco, and Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

. London and Tokyo are its foreign offices.

AOL is best known for its online
ONLINE
ONLINE is a magazine for information systems first published in 1977. The publisher Online, Inc. was founded the year before. In May 2002, Information Today, Inc. acquired the assets of Online Inc....

 software suite
Software suite
A software suite or application suite is a collection of computer programs, usually application software and programming software of related functionality, often sharing a more-or-less common user interface and some ability to smoothly exchange data with each other.Sometimes software makers...

, also called AOL, that allowed customers to access the world's largest "walled garden" online community
Online community
An online community is a virtual community that exists online and whose members enable its existence through taking part in membership ritual. An online community can take the form of an information system where anyone can post content, such as a Bulletin board system or one where only a restricted...

 and eventually reach out to the Internet as a whole. At its prime, AOL's membership was over 30 million members worldwide, most of whom accessed the AOL service through the AOL software suite.

In 2000 AOL and Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 merged under the name AOL Time Warner. The merger was not fruitful and on May 28, 2009, Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 announced that it would spin off AOL into a separate public company. The spinoff occurred on December 9, 2009, ending the eight-year relationship between the two companies.

Description



With regional branches around the world, the former American "goliath among Internet service provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

s" once had more than 30 million subscribers on several continents. It ranked fourth (behind the Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

, e-mail, and graphic user interfaces) in a 2007 USA TODAY retrospective on the 25 events that shaped the first 25 years of the Internet and was named to the ".com 25" by a panel of Silicon Valley influencers on the occasion of the same anniversary.

In January 2000, AOL and Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 announced plans to merge. The terms of the deal called for AOL shareholders to own 55% of the new, combined company. The deal closed on January 11, 2001 after receiving regulatory approval from the FTC
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

, the FCC
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...

, and the EU's COMP
Directorate-General for Competition (European Commission)
The Directorate-General for Competition is a Directorate-General of the European Commission, located in Brussels, Belgium. The DG Competition is responsible for establishing and implementing a coherent competition policy for the European Union. The DG Competition has a dual role in antitrust...

.

AOL Time Warner, Inc., as the company was then called, was led by executives from AOL, SBI, and Time Warner. Gerald Levin, who had served as CEO of Time Warner, was CEO of the new company. Steve Case
Steve Case
Stephen McConnell "Steve" Case is an American businessman best known as the co-founder and former chief executive officer and chairman of America Online . Since his retirement as chairman of AOL Time Warner in 2003, he has gone on to build a variety of new businesses through his investment...

 served as Chairman
Board of directors
A board of directors is a body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. Other names include board of governors, board of managers, board of regents, board of trustees, and board of visitors...

, J. Michael Kelly (from AOL) was the Chief Financial Officer, Robert W. Pittman
Robert W. Pittman
Robert Warren "Bob" Pittman , is an American businessman and the founder of MTV. On October 2, 2011, Pittman was named CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings, Inc.. Pittman has also been the CEO of MTV Networks, AOL, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate and Time Warner...

 (from AOL) and Dick Parsons (from Time Warner) served as Co-Chief Operating Officers. The total value of AOL stock subsequently went from $226 billion to about $20 billion. Similarly, its customer base decreased to 10.1 million subscribers as of November 2007, just narrowly ahead of Comcast
Comcast
Comcast Corporation is the largest cable operator, home Internet service provider, and fourth largest home telephone service provider in the United States, providing cable television, broadband Internet, and telephone service to both residential and commercial customers in 39 states and the...

 and AT&T Yahoo!
AT&T Yahoo!
AT&T Internet Services is a d/b/a name for 5 companies that provide Internet service.-Companies:The following companies provide AT&T Internet service:*Ameritech Interactive Media Services*Pacific Bell Internet Services...

. As of June 2010, AOL's subscriber base dropped to 4.4 million.
News reports in late 2005 identified companies such as Yahoo!
Yahoo!
Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine , Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping ,...

, Microsoft
Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

, and Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 as candidates for turning AOL into a joint venture; those plans were apparently abandoned when it was revealed on December 20, 2005 that Google would purchase a 5% share of AOL for $1 billion.

AOL was rated both one of the best and worst Internet suppliers in the UK, according to a poll by BBC Watchdog
Watchdog (TV series)
Watchdog is a BBC television series that investigates viewers' reports of problematic experiences with traders, retailers, and other companies around the UK...

.

On March 31, 1997, the short-lived eWorld
EWorld
eWorld was an online service operated by Apple Inc. between June 1994 and March 1996. The services included email , news, and a bulletin board system...

 was purchased by AOL. The ISP
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

 side of AOL UK was bought by The Carphone Warehouse
The Carphone Warehouse
Carphone Warehouse Group PLC , known as The Carphone Warehouse, is Europe's largest independent mobile phone retailer, with over 1,700 stores across Europe. It is based in the United Kingdom and is a 50% subsidiary of Best Buy...

 in October 2006 to take advantage of their 100,000 LLU
Local loop unbundling
Local loop unbundling is the regulatory process of allowing multiple telecommunications operators to use connections from the telephone exchange to the customer's premises...

 customers which made The Carphone Warehouse the biggest LLU provider in the UK.

The product was rated the "Worst Tech Product of All Time" by PC World
PC World (magazine)
PC World is a global computer magazine published monthly by IDG. It offers advice on various aspects of PCs and related items, the Internet, and other personal-technology products and services...

 in 2006.

On May 28, 2009, Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 announced that it would spin AOL off as an independent company once Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

's shares ceased at the end of the fiscal year, and AOL's page and logo changed afterward.

AOL ceased to be a part of Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 on December 9, 2009. The company declared an IPO on that day, under the stock symbol NYSE:AOL.

History



AOL release timeline
1989 America Online for Macintosh received as a popular Apple Macintosh BBS
Bulletin board system
A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging...

February 1991 AOL for DOS
MS-DOS
MS-DOS is an operating system for x86-based personal computers. It was the most commonly used member of the DOS family of operating systems, and was the main operating system for IBM PC compatible personal computers during the 1980s to the mid 1990s, until it was gradually superseded by operating...

 launched
January 1993 AOL 2.0 for the Apple Macintosh released,
AOL 1.0 for Microsoft Windows 3.x
Windows 3.1x
Windows 3.1x is a series of 16-bit operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during March 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0...

 launched
June 1994 AOL 1.5 for Microsoft Windows 3.x
Windows 3.1x
Windows 3.1x is a series of 16-bit operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during March 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0...

 released
September 1994 AOL 2.0 for Microsoft Windows 3.x
Windows 3.1x
Windows 3.1x is a series of 16-bit operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during March 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0...

 released
June 1995 AOL 2.5 for Microsoft Windows 3.x
Windows 3.1x
Windows 3.1x is a series of 16-bit operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during March 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0...

 released
June 1995 AOL 3.0 (Win16) for Windows 3.x
Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.1 is the first release of Microsoft's Windows NT line of server and business desktop operating systems, and was released to manufacturing on 27 July 1993. The version number was chosen to match the one of Windows 3.1, the then-latest operating environment from Microsoft, on account of...

/Windows 95
Windows 95
Windows 95 is a consumer-oriented graphical user interface-based operating system. It was released on August 24, 1995 by Microsoft, and was a significant progression from the company's previous Windows products...

/Windows NT
Windows NT
Windows NT is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, the first version of which was released in July 1993. It was a powerful high-level-language-based, processor-independent, multiprocessing, multiuser operating system with features comparable to Unix. It was intended to complement...

 released
June 1996 AOL 3.0 for Windows 95
Windows 95
Windows 95 is a consumer-oriented graphical user interface-based operating system. It was released on August 24, 1995 by Microsoft, and was a significant progression from the company's previous Windows products...

 released
July 1998 / June 1999 AOL 4.0 (Casablanca) and Refresh 2 released
September 1999 AOL 5.0 (Kilimanjaro) released
June 2000 AOL 5.0 for 9x/NT/2K (Niagara) released
October and December 2000 AOL 6.0 (K2 – Karakorum) and Refresh released
September 2001 AOL 6.0.2 for XP (Steppenwolf) launched
October and December 2001, May and July 2002 AOL 7.0 (Taz) and Refresh 1, Refresh 2, and Refresh 2 Plus released
October 2002 AOL 8.0 (Spacely) released
April 2003 AOL 8.0 Plus (Elroy) launched
August and September 2003 AOL 9.0 Optimized (Bunker Hill / Blue Hawaii) and Refresh released
May 2004 AOL 9.0 Optimized SE/LE (Thailand / Tahiti) released
November 2004, July 2005 AOL 9.0 Security Edition SE/LE (Strauss) and Refresh released
August 2005 to March 2006 AOL Suite Beta launched (cancelled)
September 2006, March 2007 AOL OpenRide (Streamliner) launched
November 2006, April 2007 AOL 9.0 VR and Refresh (Raga) released (AOL 9.0 for Microsoft Windows Vista but also works with Microsoft Windows 98, ME, 2000 and XP)
September 2007 AOL Desktop for Mac Beta released
October 31, 2007 AOL 9.1 (Tarana) released
December 2007 AOL Desktop (a.k.a. AOL 10.0) launched
May 2008 AOL Desktop for Mac 1.0 officially launched
September 2008 AOL Desktop 10.1 released
February and November 2009 AOL 9.5 and 9.5 Refresh released (Classic)
November 2010 AOL Desktop 9.6
July 31, 2011 AOL Desktop (Bn)


AOL began as a short-lived venture called Control Video Corporation (or CVC), founded by Bill von Meister. Its sole product was an online service called GameLine
Gameline
The CVC GameLine was a cartridge for the Atari 2600 which could download games using a telephone line.In the early 1980s a cable pioneer named William von Meister was looking for a way to use his innovative modem transmission technology, recently acquired in ill-fated attempts of sending music to...

 for the Atari 2600
Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in...

 video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

 after von Meister's idea of buying music on demand was rejected by Warner Brothers. Subscribers bought a modem
Modem
A modem is a device that modulates an analog carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data...

 from the company for $49.95 and paid a one-time $15 setup fee. GameLine permitted subscribers to temporarily download games and keep track of high scores, at a cost of $1 per game. The telephone disconnected and the downloaded game would remain in GameLine's Master Module and playable until the user turned off the console or downloaded another game.

The original technical team was composed of Marc Seriff, Tom Ralston, Ken Huntsman, Janet Hunter, Dave Brown, Steve Trus, Ray Heinrich, Craig Dykstra, and Doug Coward.

In January 1983, Steve Case
Steve Case
Stephen McConnell "Steve" Case is an American businessman best known as the co-founder and former chief executive officer and chairman of America Online . Since his retirement as chairman of AOL Time Warner in 2003, he has gone on to build a variety of new businesses through his investment...

 was hired as a marketing consultant for Control Video on the recommendation of his brother, investment banker Dan Case. In May 1983, Jim Kimsey
Jim Kimsey
James V. "Jim" Kimsey was the co-founder, CEO, and first chairman of internet service provider America Online .-Early life:...

 became a manufacturing consultant for Control Video, which was near bankruptcy. Kimsey was brought in by his West Point friend Frank Caufield, an investor in the company. Von Meister quietly left the company in early 1985. Control Video was reorganized as Quantum Computer Services, Inc. on May 24, 1985, with Kimsey as Chief Executive Officer and Marc Seriff
Marc Seriff
Marc S. Seriff is best known as the CTO and co-founder America Online, along with Jim Kimsey and Steve Case....

 as Chief Technology Officer. Out of 100 employees from Control Video, only 10 remained in the new company. Case himself rose quickly through the ranks; Kimsey promoted him to vice-president of marketing not long after becoming CEO, and later promoted him further to executive vice-president in 1987. Kimsey soon began to groom Case to ascend to the rank of CEO, which he did when Kimsey retired in 1991.

Kimsey changed the company's strategy, and in 1985 launched a dedicated online service for Commodore 64
Commodore 64
The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982.Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595...

 and 128
Commodore 128
The Commodore 128 home/personal computer was the last 8-bit machine commercially released by Commodore Business Machines...

 computers, originally called Quantum Link
Quantum Link
Quantum Link was a U.S. and Canadian online service for Commodore 64 and 128 personal computers that operated from November 5, 1985 to November 1, 1995. It was operated by Quantum Computer Services of Vienna, Virginia. In October 1991 they changed the name to America Online, which continues to...

 ("Q-Link" for short). The Quantum Link software was based on software licensed from PlayNet, Inc
PlayNET
PlayNet was a U.S. online service for Commodore 64 personal computers that operated from 1984 to 1987. It was operated by the PlayNet, Inc of Troy, New York.-History:...

, (founded in 1983 by Howard Goldberg and Dave Panzl). In May 1988, Quantum and Apple launched AppleLink
AppleLink
AppleLink was the name of both Apple Computer's online service for its dealers, third party developers, and users, and the client software used to access it. Prior to the commercialization of the Internet, AppleLink was a popular service for Mac and Apple IIGS users...

 Personal Edition for Apple II and Macintosh computers. In August 1988, Quantum launched PC Link, a service for IBM-compatible PCs
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

 developed in a joint venture with the Tandy Corporation
Tandy Corporation
Tandy Corporation was a family-owned leather goods company based in Fort Worth, Texas. Tandy was founded in 1919 as a leather supply store, and acquired RadioShack in 1963. The Tandy name was dropped in May 2000, when RadioShack Corporation was made the official name.-History:Tandy began in 1919...

. After the company parted ways with Apple in October 1989, Quantum changed the service's name to America Online.

From the beginning, AOL included online games in its mix of products; many classic and casual games were included in the original PlayNet software system. In the early years of AOL the company introduced many innovative online interactive titles and games, including:
  • Graphical chat environments Habitat
    Habitat (video game)
    Lucasfilm's Habitat was an early and technologically influential online role-playing game developed by Lucasfilm Games and made available as a beta test in 1986 by Quantum Link, an online service for the Commodore 64 computer and the corporate progenitor to America Online...

     (1986–1988) and Club Caribe
    Club Caribe
    Club Caribe was one of the first graphical online worlds. It was available in the 1980s on the exclusively Commodore 64 online service Quantum Link. Originally available in limited release as Habitat, Club Caribe was eventually released to the public as an extension of Q-Link's "People Connection"...

     (1988) from LucasArts
    LucasArts
    LucasArts Entertainment Company, LLC is an American video game developer and publisher. The company was once famous for its innovative line of graphic adventure games, the critical and commercial success of which peaked in the mid 1990s...

    .
  • The first online interactive fiction series QuantumLink Serial
    QuantumLink Serial
    The QuantumLink Serial by Tracy Reed on AOL was the first episodic online story. The series was also known as the PC-Link Serial and the AppleLink Serial before all three services were unified when Quantum changed its name to AOL....

     by Tracy Reed
    Tracy Reed (writer)
    Tracy Reed is an American writer who created the first episodic online story, the QuantumLink Serial on AOL .The series debuted in 1988, and was played out in online chat rooms, emails and traditional narrative...

     (1988).
  • Quantum Space
    Quantum Space
    Quantum Space was the first play-by-email game offered as part of a major commercial online service. It ran on AOL from 1989 to 1992. The game was developed by Stormfront Studios, designed and programmed by Don Daglow and produced by Kathi McHugh....

    , the first fully automated Play by email
    Play-by-mail game
    Play-by-mail games, sometimes known as "Play-by-post", are games, of any type, played through postal mail or e-mail. One example, chess, has been played by mail for centuries . Another example, Diplomacy, has been played by mail since the 1960s, starting with a printed newsletter written by John...

     game (1989–1991).
  • The original Dungeons & Dragons
    Dungeons & Dragons
    Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. . The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997...

     title Neverwinter Nights
    Neverwinter Nights (AOL game)
    Neverwinter Nights was the first multiplayer online role-playing game to display graphics, and ran from 1991 to 1997 on AOL.-Gameplay:Neverwinter Nights was developed to be played similarly to the Gold Box series of games...

    from Stormfront Studios
    Stormfront Studios
    Stormfront Studios was a video game developer based in San Rafael, California which had one of the longest creative histories in the industry. In 2007, the company had over 50 developers working on two teams, and owned all its proprietary engines, tools and technology. As of the end of 2007 over...

     (1991–1997), the first Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG
    MMORPG
    Massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a genre of role-playing video games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world....

    ) to depict the adventure with graphics instead of text (1991).
  • The first chat room-based text role-playing game Black Bayou
    Black Bayou
    Black Bayou is a river in Texas and Louisiana. It is a tributary of Twelvemile Bayou, which feeds Cross Bayou and consequently the Red River and the Mississippi River. It rises in Cass County, Texas, north of Atlanta, and flows south past Atlanta, then southeast into Caddo Parish, Louisiana...

     (1996–2004), a horror role-playing game from Hecklers Online and Antagonist, Inc.


In February 1991 AOL for DOS
DOS
DOS, short for "Disk Operating System", is an acronym for several closely related operating systems that dominated the IBM PC compatible market between 1981 and 1995, or until about 2000 if one includes the partially DOS-based Microsoft Windows versions 95, 98, and Millennium Edition.Related...

 was launched using a GeoWorks interface followed a year later by AOL for Windows. This coincided with growth in pay-based online services, like Prodigy
Prodigy (ISP)
Prodigy Communications Corporation was an online service that offered its subscribers access to a broad range of networked services, including news, weather, shopping, bulletin boards, games, polls, expert columns, banking, stocks, travel, and a variety of other features.Initially subscribers...

, CompuServe
CompuServe
CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates...

, and GEnie
GEnie
GEnie was an online service created by a General Electric business - GEIS that ran from 1985 through the end of 1999. In 1994, GEnie claimed around 350,000 users. Peak simultaneous usage was around 10,000 users...

. AOL discontinued Q-Link and PC Link in the fall of 1994.

March 2011: AOL announced it will cut around 20 percent jobs or 900 workers among 5,000 workers.

In September 2011, AOL formed a strategic ad selling partnership with two of its largest competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Growth


Steve Case
Steve Case
Stephen McConnell "Steve" Case is an American businessman best known as the co-founder and former chief executive officer and chairman of America Online . Since his retirement as chairman of AOL Time Warner in 2003, he has gone on to build a variety of new businesses through his investment...

 positioned AOL as the online service for people unfamiliar with computers, in particular contrast to CompuServe
CompuServe
CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates...

, which had long served the technical community. The PlayNet system that AOL licensed was the first online service to require use of proprietary software
Proprietary software
Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. The licensee is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, while restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.Complementary...

, rather than a standard terminal program; as a result it was able to offer a graphical user interface
Graphical user interface
In computing, a graphical user interface is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices with images rather than text commands. GUIs can be used in computers, hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable media players or gaming devices, household appliances and...

 (GUI) instead of command lines, and was well ahead of the competition in emphasizing communication among members as a feature.

In particular was the Chat Room
Chat room
The term chat room, or chatroom, is primarily used by mass media to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing...

 concept from PlayNet, as opposed to the previous paradigm of CB
Citizens' band radio
Citizens' Band radio is, in many countries, a system of short-distance radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27-MHz band. Citizens' Band is distinct from the FRS, GMRS, MURS and amateur radio...

-style channels. Chat Rooms allowed a large group of people with similar interests to convene and hold conversations in real time, including:
  • Private rooms – created by any user. Hold up to 23 people.
  • Conference rooms – created with permission of AOL. Hold up to 48 people and often moderated.
  • Auditoriums – created with permission of AOL. Consisted of a stage and an unlimited number of rows. What happened on the stage was viewable by everybody in the auditorium but what happened within individual rows, of up to 27 people, was viewable only by the people within those rows.


Another area of early AOL leadership was education. Between 1990–94, AOL launched services with the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, Pearson, Scholastic, ASCD, NSBA, NCTE, Discovery Networks, Turner Education Services (CNN Newsroom), National Public Radio, The Princeton Review, Stanley Kaplan, Barron's, Highlights for Kids, the US Department of Education, and many other education providers. AOL's offered the first real-time homework help service (the Teacher Pager—1990; prior to this, AOL provided homework help bulletin boards), the first service by kids, for kids (Kids Only Online, 1991), the first online service for parents (the Parents Information Network, 1991), the first online courses (1988), the first omnibus service for teachers (the Teachers' Information Network, 1990), the first online exhibit (Library of Congress, 1991), the first parental controls, and many other online education firsts.

In September 1993, AOL added USENET
Usenet
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980...

 access to its features. This is commonly referred to as the "Eternal September
Eternal September
Eternal September is a Usenet slang expression, coined by Dave Fischer, for the period beginning September 1993...

".

AOL quickly surpassed GEnie
GEnie
GEnie was an online service created by a General Electric business - GEIS that ran from 1985 through the end of 1999. In 1994, GEnie claimed around 350,000 users. Peak simultaneous usage was around 10,000 users...

, and by the mid-1990s, it passed Prodigy
Prodigy (ISP)
Prodigy Communications Corporation was an online service that offered its subscribers access to a broad range of networked services, including news, weather, shopping, bulletin boards, games, polls, expert columns, banking, stocks, travel, and a variety of other features.Initially subscribers...

 (which for several years allowed AOL advertising) and CompuServe
CompuServe
CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates...

.

Originally, AOL charged its users an hourly fee, but in October 1996 this changed to a flat monthly rate of $19.95. During this time, AOL connections would be flooded with users trying to get on, and many canceled their accounts due to constant busy signal
Busy signal
A busy signal in telephony is an audible or visual signal to the calling party that indicates failure to complete the requested connection of that particular telephone call....

s (this was often joked "AOL" standing for "Always Off-Line").A commercial featuring Steve Case telling people AOL was working day and night to fix the problem was made. Within three years, AOL's userbase grew to 10 million people. In 1995 AOL was headquartered at 8619 Westwood Center Drive in the Tysons Corner CDP
Tysons Corner, Virginia
Tysons Corner is an unincorporated census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. Part of the Washington Metropolitan Area located in Northern Virginia, Tysons Corner lies between the community of McLean and the town of Vienna along the Capital Beltway . The population was...

 in unincorporated
Unincorporated area
In law, an unincorporated area is a region of land that is not a part of any municipality.To "incorporate" in this context means to form a municipal corporation, a city, town, or village with its own government. An unincorporated community is usually not subject to or taxed by a municipal government...

 Fairfax County
Fairfax County, Virginia
Fairfax County is a county in Virginia, in the United States. Per the 2010 Census, the population of the county is 1,081,726, making it the most populous jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 13.5% of Virginia's population...

, Virginia, near the Town of Vienna
Vienna, Virginia
Vienna is a town in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, it had a population of 15,687. Significantly more people live in zip codes with the Vienna postal addresses bordered approximately by Interstate 66 on the south, Interstate 495 on the east, Route 7 to...

.

AOL was quickly running out of room in October 1996 for its network at the Fairfax County campus. In 1996, AOL moved to 22000 AOL Way in Dulles
Dulles, Virginia
Dulles, Virginia is an unincorporated area located in Loudoun County, Virginia, part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The headquarters of Orbital Sciences Corporation, GeoEye, and ODIN technologies and the former headquarters of MCI Inc...

, unincorporated Loudoun County, Virginia
Loudoun County, Virginia
Loudoun County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county is estimated to be home to 312,311 people, an 84 percent increase over the 2000 figure of 169,599. That increase makes the county the fourth...

. The move to Dulles took place in mid-1996 and provided room for future growth. In a five year landmark agreement with the most popular operating system, AOL was bundled with Windows software.

Change in focus, decline, and rebranding


Since its merger with Time Warner (the owners of the aforementioned Warner Bros.) in 2001, the value of AOL has dropped significantly from its $240 billion high. Its subscriber base has seen no quarterly growth since 2002. AOL has since attempted to reposition itself as a content provider similar to companies such as Yahoo!
Yahoo!
Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine , Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping ,...

 as opposed to an Internet service provider.
  • In 2004 along with the launch of AOL 9.0 Optimized, AOL also made available the option of personalized greetings which would enable the user to hear his or her name while accessing basic functions and mail alerts, or while logging in or out.
  • AOL eventually announced plans to offer subscribers classic television programs for free with commercials inserted via its new IN2TV
    In2TV
    In2TV was a website offering ad-supported streaming video of classic TV shows in the USA only .The main appeal of the service was that it made available numerous old shows which were rarely, if ever, aired on broadcast television...

     service. At the time of launch, AOL made available Warner Bros. Television
    Warner Bros. Television
    Warner Bros. Television is the television production arm of Warner Bros. Entertainment, itself part of Time Warner. Alongside CBS Television Studios, it serves as a television production arm of The CW Television Network , though it also produces shows for other networks, such as Shameless on...

    's vast library of programs, with Welcome Back Kotter as its marquee offering.
  • In 2005, AOL broadcast the Live 8
    Live 8
    Live 8 was a string of benefit concerts that took place on 2 July 2005, in the G8 states and in South Africa. They were timed to precede the G8 Conference and summit held at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland from 6–8 July 2005; they also coincided with the 20th anniversary of Live Aid...

     concert live over the Internet, and thousands of users downloaded clips of the concert over the following months.
  • In 2005, AOL (along with Telepictures Productions) launched TMZ.com
    TMZ.com
    TMZ.com is a celebrity news website that debuted on November 8, 2005. It was a collaboration between America Online and Telepictures Productions, a division of Warner Bros., until Time Warner divested AOL in 2009. However, it is still affiliated with AOL News and has the AOL News logo affixed in...

    , one of the leading celebrity news and gossip sources on the web. TMZ.com has become known for its quickness to break celebrity news, often accompanied by exclusive videos and photos.
  • In 2006, AOL informed its American customers that it would be increasing the price of its dial-up access
    Dial-up access
    Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network to establish a dialled connection to an Internet service provider via telephone lines...

     to US$25.90. The increase was part of an effort to migrate the service's remaining dial-up users to broadband, as the increased price was the same price they had been charging for monthly DSL
    Digital Subscriber Line
    Digital subscriber line is a family of technologies that provides digital data transmission over the wires of a local telephone network. DSL originally stood for digital subscriber loop. In telecommunications marketing, the term DSL is widely understood to mean Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line ,...

     access. However, AOL has since started offering their services for $9.95 a month for unlimited dial-up access.
  • On April 3, 2006, AOL announced that it was retiring the full name "America Online"; the official name of the service became "AOL", and the full name of the TimeWarner subdivision became "AOL, LLC
    Limited liability company
    A limited liability company is a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures. It is a legal form of company that provides limited liability to its owners in the vast majority of United States jurisdictions...

    ".
  • On August 2, 2006, AOL announced that they would give away e-mail accounts and software previously available only to its paying customers provided the customer accessed AOL or AOL.com through a non-AOL-owned access method (otherwise known as "third party transit", "bring your own access", or "BYOA"). The move was designed to reduce costs associated with the "Walled Garden" business model by reducing usage of AOL-owned access points and shifting members with high-speed internet access from client-based usage to the more lucrative advertising provider, AOL.com. The change from paid to free was also designed to slow the rate of members canceling their accounts and defecting to Microsoft
    Microsoft
    Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

     Hotmail
    Hotmail
    Windows Live Hotmail, formerly known as MSN Hotmail and commonly referred to simply as Hotmail, is a free web-based email service operated by Microsoft as part of its Windows Live group. It was founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith and launched in July 1996 as "HoTMaiL". It was one of the first...

    , Yahoo!
    Yahoo!
    Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine , Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping ,...

    , or other free e-mail providers. According to AOL CEO Randy Falco, as of December 2007, the conversion rate of accounts from paid access to free access was over 80%.
  • In December 2006, in order to cut operating costs, AOL decided to cease using U.S.-based call centers to provide customer service
    Customer service
    Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.According to Turban et al. , “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer...

    . AOL drastically downsized U.S. corporate operations as well. On January 28, 2007, the last domestic AOL owned and operated call center (based in Oklahoma City
    Oklahoma city
    Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.Oklahoma City may also refer to:*Oklahoma City metropolitan area*Downtown Oklahoma City*Uptown Oklahoma City*Oklahoma City bombing*Oklahoma City National Memorial...

    ) closed its doors, and, during October 2007, the last call center in Canada was also shut down. All customer service calls became handled by outsourced representatives in Romania
    Romania
    Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

    , the Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    , and India.
  • On September 17, 2007, AOL announced that it was moving one of its corporate headquarters from Dulles, Virginia
    Dulles, Virginia
    Dulles, Virginia is an unincorporated area located in Loudoun County, Virginia, part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. The headquarters of Orbital Sciences Corporation, GeoEye, and ODIN technologies and the former headquarters of MCI Inc...

     to New York City and combining its various advertising units into a new subsidiary called Platform A. This action followed several advertising acquisitions, most notably Advertising.com
    Advertising.com
    Advertising.com is an online advertising company based in the United States. Established in 1998 asTrade Key with the name TeknoSurf.com, by Scott and John Ferber, it was renamed Advertising.com in January 2000...

    , and highlighted the company's new focus on advertising-driven business models. AOL management stressed that "significant operations" will remain in Dulles, which included the company's access services and modem banks.
  • AOL created animated cartoons in 2008 to explain behavioral targeting
    Behavioral targeting
    Behavioral targeting is a technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.Behavioral targeting uses information collected on an individual's web-browsing behavior, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made, to select...

     to its users, showing how a user's past visits to other Web sites could determine the content of advertising they would see in the future. Later that year AOL initiated privacy research and extended the animated penguin campaign to the United Kingdom.
  • AOL closed one of its three Northern Virginia data centers, Reston Technology Center
    Reston, Virginia
    Reston is a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, within the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The population was 58,404, at the 2010 Census and 56,407 at the 2000 census...

    , and sold it to CRG West in January 2008. This sale enabled AOL to consolidate its Northern Virginia operations from three sites (Dulles, Manassas, Reston) to two. AOL took advantage of the move to both reduce its overall hardware inventory and to determine a "right size" for its Network Operations Center staff after consolidating the three sites into two.
  • In 2007, AOL announced that it would move one of its other headquarters from Loudoun County, Virginia
    Loudoun County, Virginia
    Loudoun County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is part of the Washington Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the county is estimated to be home to 312,311 people, an 84 percent increase over the 2000 figure of 169,599. That increase makes the county the fourth...

     to New York City; it would continue to operate its Virginia offices. As part of the impending move to New York and the restructuring of responsibilities at the Dulles headquarters complex after the Reston move, AOL CEO Randy Falco
    Randy Falco
    Randy Falco, , is the Chief Executive Officer for Univision Communications Inc. since June 2011. He is charged with the task of capitalizing on the growth of the U.S. Latino population to steer the Spanish-language media company into the mainstream...

     announced on October 15, 2007 plans to lay off 2000 employees worldwide by the end of 2007, beginning "immediately". That evening, over 750 employees at Dulles alone received notices to attend early morning meetings the next day; those employees were laid off on October 16, 2007, though the employees would remain on the payroll until December 14, 2007 in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
    Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
    The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 is a United States labor law which protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide sixty- calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of...

    . Other employees whose groups were due for phase-out as part of the restructuring were informed on October 16, 2007 that they would be kept on until December 14, 2007 to complete any outstanding tasks, after which they would be laid off. The reduction in force was so large that virtually every conference room within the Dulles complex was reserved for the day as a "Special Purpose Room", where various aspects of the layoff process were conducted for outgoing employees; remaining employees at Dulles were quick to dub the mass layoff "Bloody Tuesday" in online blogs and news reports. An unspecified number of staff at the former Compuserve
    CompuServe
    CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates...

     facility in Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

     were also released, as well as the entire Tucson
    Tucson, Arizona
    Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

     Quality Analysis shop, a number of AOL employees working at the former Netscape facility in Mountain View, California
    Mountain View, California
    -Downtown:Mountain View has a pedestrian-friendly downtown centered on Castro Street. The downtown area consists of the seven blocks of Castro Street from the Downtown Mountain View Station transit center in the north to the intersection with El Camino Real in the south...

    , the development team in France, and practically the entire Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada member services call center site. The end result was a near 40% layoff across the board at AOL, including a substantial number of Systems Operations personnel, a significant change from previous layoffs where SysOps employees routinely suffered only minor personnel reductions. An additional round of layoffs, mostly confined to analysis groups and the staff at AOL Voice Services in Halifax, Nova Scotia
    City of Halifax
    Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

    , occurred on December 11 and 12, 2007.
  • On February 6, 2008, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes
    Jeffrey Bewkes
    Jeffrey Lawrence Bewkes is an American media executive. He has served as CEO of Time Warner since January 1, 2008 and as President since December 2005. On January 1, 2009 he became Chairman of the Board in addition to his other duties....

     announced that Time Warner would split AOL's internet access and advertising businesses into two, with the possibility of later selling the internet access division.
  • In April 2009, Tim Armstrong, formerly with Google
    Google
    Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

    , was named Chairman and CEO of AOL.
  • On November 23, 2009, AOL unveiled a sneak preview of a new brand identity which has the new logo Aol sumperimposed onto figures (for example, a goldfish, a rainbow, a tree, a postcard). The new identity was enacted onto all of AOL's services on December 10, 2009, right after TimeWarner split from AOL.
  • On September 28, 2010 AOL signed, at the San Francisco TechCrunch
    TechCrunch
    TechCrunch is a web publication that offers technology news and analysis, as well as profiling of startup companies, products, and websites. It was founded by Michael Arrington in 2005, and was first published on June 11, 2005....

     Disrupt Conference, an agreement to acquire TechCrunch
    TechCrunch
    TechCrunch is a web publication that offers technology news and analysis, as well as profiling of startup companies, products, and websites. It was founded by Michael Arrington in 2005, and was first published on June 11, 2005....

     to further its overall strategy of providing premier online content.
  • In December 2010, AIM eliminated access to AOL chat rooms noting a marked decline of patronage in recent months.
  • On February 7, 2011, AOL bought The Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post is an American news website and content-aggregating blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti, featuring liberal minded columnists and various news sources. The site offers coverage of politics, theology, media, business, entertainment, living, style,...

     for $315 million.

Controversies



Community leaders


Prior to mid 2005, AOL used online volunteers
Virtual volunteering
Virtual volunteering is a term describing a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, off-site from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer or other Internet-connected device. Virtual volunteering is also known as online...

 called Community Leaders
AOL Community Leader Program
The AOL Community Leader Program or AOL CLP was the official name for the large group of America Online online service volunteers who moderated chat rooms, message boards, and download libraries....

, or CLs, to monitor chatrooms, message boards, and libraries. AOL's use of remote volunteers
Virtual volunteering
Virtual volunteering is a term describing a volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, off-site from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer or other Internet-connected device. Virtual volunteering is also known as online...

 dated back to the establishment of its Quantum Link
Quantum Link
Quantum Link was a U.S. and Canadian online service for Commodore 64 and 128 personal computers that operated from November 5, 1985 to November 1, 1995. It was operated by Quantum Computer Services of Vienna, Virginia. In October 1991 they changed the name to America Online, which continues to...

 service in 1985. Some community leaders were recruited for content design and maintenance using a proprietary language and interface called RAINMAN
Rainman
Rainman, which stands for Remote Automated Information Manager, is the proprietary publishing platform of AOL . It was conceptualized and coding started by Marc Seriff and completed by Craig Dykstra, both AOL founders....

, although most content maintenance was performed by partner and internal employees.

Two former community leaders, Brian Williams of Dallas and Kelly Hallissey of New York filed a class action lawsuit against AOL citing violations of U.S. labor laws
United States labor law
United States labor law is a heterogeneous collection of state and federal laws. Federal law not only sets the standards that govern workers' rights to organize in the private sector, but also overrides most state and local laws that attempt to regulate this area. Federal law also provides more...

 in its use of community leaders. The lawsuit was filed in the United States Federal Courthouse, New York City on May 25, 1999 which subsequently was followed by the dismissal of all community leaders under the age of 18 years old as well as a reorganization of the community leader program as a whole. The Department of Labor
United States Department of Labor
The United States Department of Labor is a Cabinet department of the United States government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and some economic statistics. Many U.S. states also have such departments. The...

 was also investigating AOL's alleged labor law violations, but came to no conclusion closing their investigation in 2001. AOL began drastically reducing the responsibilities and privileges of its volunteers in 2000. The program was eventually ended on June 8, 2005. Current Community Leaders at the time were offered 12 months of credit on their accounts in thanks for their service.

Within one decade of the class action lawsuit being filed, the class had grown to over 6,000 members citing the largest class action lawsuit ever filed against an internet based company. Currently it is the third largest class ever involved in any lawsuit on a federal level in the United States, affecting ultimately the employment eligibility of individuals in an online environment.

In February 2010, a settlement was approved by the Courts in the class action suit. The settlement included a $15 million USD payment. This payment was then divided by one third, the first of which was attorney and legal fees. Five Million was then divided among the included members of the class which consisted of more than 7,000 individual former Community Leaders. The final five million dollars was donated to charities hand picked by Hallissey and Williams then approved by the Courts for distribution. One such charity, The Remote Area Medical Foundation (www.ramusa.org), received payments in excess of $1.2 million USD for the provision of medical services, supplies and medication for those in need within the more rural areas of the United States and beyond.

Prior to the 1999 class action lawsuit, the community leaders were informed of a change in compensation for duties performed by AOL. Community leaders would be charged a reduced rate per month for their accounts and no longer would be given unlimited access without invoice. During this live announcement via an online meeting of all community leaders in a virtual arena, Brian Williams of Dallas led many community leaders in a virtual "strike" or "sit-in" to protest the new charges the community leaders were being asked to now pay. This protest or strike is noted as the first of its kind for an online environment and was nicknamed for the row of the arena it was held in; Row 800. Following the protest, AOL terminated the online working relationship between itself and several of the Community Leaders involved. Quickly following the release of these community leaders was the reinstatement of each one terminated with exception to Williams, which AOL was not willing to review due to the role he played within the cause of the protest. During this time, Williams role on AOL was that of Guide XNT (Guide Program), CB Naked (Crystal Ball forum), VnV Naked (iVillage's Vices and Virtues Forum) and JCommBrian (Jewish Community Online Forum).

Billing disputes


AOL has faced a number of lawsuits over claims that it has been slow to stop billing customers after their accounts have been canceled, either by the company or the user. In addition, AOL changed its method of calculating used minutes in response to a class action lawsuit. Previously, AOL would add 15 seconds to the time a user was connected to the service and round up to the next whole minute (thus, a person who used the service for 11 minutes and 46 seconds would be charged for 13 minutes). AOL claimed this was to account for sign on/sign off time, but because this practice was not made known to its customers, the plaintiffs won (some also pointed out that signing on and off did not always take 15 seconds, especially when connecting via another ISP). AOL disclosed its connection-time calculation methods to all of its customers and credited them with extra free hours. In addition, the AOL software would notify the user of exactly how long they were connected and how many minutes they were being charged.

AOL was sued by the Ohio Attorney General
Ohio Attorney General
The Ohio Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the State of Ohio in the United States. The office is filled by general election, held every four years. The Ohio Attorney General is Mike DeWine.-History:...

 in October 2003 for improper billing practices. The case was settled on June 8, 2005. AOL agreed to resolve any consumer complaints filed with the Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 AG's office. In December 2006, AOL agreed to provide restitution
Restitution
The law of restitution is the law of gains-based recovery. It is to be contrasted with the law of compensation, which is the law of loss-based recovery. Obligations to make restitution and obligations to pay compensation are each a type of legal response to events in the real world. When a court...

 to Florida consumers to settle the case filed against them by the Florida Attorney General
Florida Attorney General
The Florida Attorney General is an elected cabinet official in the U.S. state of Florida. The attorney general serves as the chief legal officer of the state....

.

Account cancellation


In response to approximately 300 consumer complaints, New York Attorney General's office began an inquiry of AOL's customer service policies. The investigation revealed that the company had an elaborate scheme for rewarding employees who purported to retain
Customer retention
Customer Retention is the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections. Successful customer retention starts with the first contact an organisation has with a customer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of a relationship...

 or "save" subscribers who had called to cancel their Internet service. In many instances, such retention was done against subscribers' wishes, or without their consent. Under the scheme, consumer service personnel received bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars if they could successfully dissuade or "save" half of the people who called to cancel service. For several years, AOL had instituted minimum retention or "save" percentages, which consumer representatives were expected to meet. These bonuses, and the minimum "save" rates accompanying them, had the effect of employees not honoring cancellations, or otherwise making cancellation unduly difficult for consumers.

Many customers complained that AOL personnel ignored their demands to cancel service and stop billing. On August 24, 2005, America Online agreed to pay $1.25 million to the state of New York and reformed its customer service procedures. Under the agreement, AOL would no longer require its customer service representatives to meet a minimum quota for customer retention in order to receive a bonus.

On June 13, 2006, a man named Vincent Ferrari documented his account cancellation phone call in a blog post, stating he had switched to broadband years earlier. In the recorded phone call, the AOL representative refused to cancel the account unless the 30-year-old Ferrari explained why AOL hours were still being recorded on it. Ferrari insisted that AOL software was not even installed on the computer. When Ferrari demanded that the account be canceled regardless, the AOL representative asked to speak with Ferrari's father, for whom the account had been set up. The conversation was aired on CNBC. When CNBC reporters tried to have an account on AOL cancelled, they were hung up on immediately and it ultimately took more than 45 minutes to cancel the account.

On July 19, 2006, AOL's entire retention
Customer retention
Customer Retention is the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections. Successful customer retention starts with the first contact an organisation has with a customer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of a relationship...

 manual was released on the Internet.

On August 3, 2006, Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 announced that the company would be dissolving AOL's retention centers due to its profits hinging on $1 billion in cost cuts. The company estimated that it would lose more than six million subscribers over the following year.

Direct marketing of disks



Prior to 2006, AOL was infamous for the unsolicited mass direct mail
Direct mail
Advertising mail, also known as direct mail, junk mail, or admail, is the delivery of advertising material to recipients of postal mail. The delivery of advertising mail forms a large and growing service for many postal services, and direct-mail marketing forms a significant portion of the direct...

 of CD-ROM
CD-ROM
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

s and 3½" floppy disks containing their software. They were the most frequent user of this marketing tactic, and received criticism for the environmental cost of the campaign. The mass distribution of these disks was seen as wasteful by many people and led to protest groups. One such was No More AOL CDs, a web-based effort by two IT workers to collect one million disks with the intent to return the disks to AOL. The website was started in August 2001, and an estimated 410,176 CDs were collected by August 2007 when the project was shut down. AOL CDs were recognized as No.1 on PCWorld's
PC World (magazine)
PC World is a global computer magazine published monthly by IDG. It offers advice on various aspects of PCs and related items, the Internet, and other personal-technology products and services...

 top ten list of most annoying tech products.

Software

  • In 2000, AOL was served with an $8 billion lawsuit alleging that its AOL 5.0 software caused significant difficulties for users attempting to use third-party Internet service providers. The lawsuit sought damages of up to $1000 for each user that had downloaded the software cited at the time of the lawsuit. AOL later agreed to a settlement of $15 million, without admission of wrongdoing. The AOL software then was given a feature called AOL Dialer, or AOL Connect on Mac OS X. This feature allowed users to connect to the ISP without running the full interface. This allowed users to use only the applications they wish to use, especially if they do not favor the AOL Browser.
  • AOL 9.0 was once identified by Stopbadware
    Stopbadware
    StopBadware is a consumer-oriented nonprofit organization aimed at fighting malicious software, or "badware". It is the successor to StopBadware.org, a project started in 2006 at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. It spun off to become a standalone organization, and...

     as being under investigation for installing additional software without disclosure, and modifying browser preferences, toolbars, and icons. However, as of the release of AOL 9.0 VR (Vista Ready) on January 26, 2007, it was no longer considered badware due to changes AOL made in the software.

Usenet newsgroups


When AOL gave clients access to Usenet
Usenet
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980...

 in 1993, they hid at least one newsgroup in standard list view: alt.aol-sucks. AOL did list the newsgroup in the alternative description view, but changed the description to "Flames and complaints about America Online". With AOL clients swarming Usenet
Usenet
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980...

 newsgroups, the old, existing user base started to develop a strong distaste for both AOL and its clients, referring to the new state of affairs as Eternal September
Eternal September
Eternal September is a Usenet slang expression, coined by Dave Fischer, for the period beginning September 1993...

.

Later, AOL discontinued providing access to Usenet on June 25, 2005. No official details were provided as to the cause of decommissioning Usenet access, except providing users the suggestion to access Usenet services from a third-party, Google Groups
Google Groups
Google Groups is a service from Google Inc. that supports discussion groups, including many Usenet newsgroups, based on common interests. The service was started in 1995 as Deja News, and was transitioned to Google Groups after a February 2001 buyout....

. AOL then provided community-based message boards
Internet forum
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived...

 in lieu of Usenet.

Terms of Service (TOS)


AOL has a detailed set of guidelines and expectations for users on their service, known as the Terms of Service
Terms of Service
Terms of service are rules which one must agree to abide by in order to use a service. Unless in violation of consumer protection laws, such terms are usually legally binding...

 (TOS, also known as Conditions of Service, or COS in the UK). It is separated into three different sections: Member Agreement, Community Guidelines and Privacy Policy. All three agreements are presented to users at time of registration and digital acceptance is achieved when they access the AOL service.

There have been many complaints over rules that govern an AOL user's conduct. Some users disagree with the TOS, citing the guidelines are too strict to follow coupled with the fact the TOS may change without users being made aware. A considerable cause for this was likely due to alleged censorship of user-generated content during the earlier years of growth for AOL.

Certified e-mail


In early 2005, AOL stated its intention to implement a certified e-mail
Certified e-mail
Certified email is an email whitelisting technique by which an internet service provider allows someone to bypass spam filters when sending email messages to its subscribers, in return for paying a fee to the certifying service. A sender can then be sure that his messages have reached their...

 system called Goodmail, which will allow companies to send email to users with whom they have pre-existing business relationships, with a visual indication that the email is from a trusted source and without the risk that the email messages might be blocked or stripped by spam filters.

This decision drew fire from MoveOn
MoveOn
MoveOn is an American non-profit, progressive or liberal public policy advocacy group and political action committee, which has raised millions of dollars for candidates it identifies as "moderates" or "progressives" in the United States. It was formed in 1998 in response to the impeachment of...

, which characterized the program as an "e-mail tax", and the EFF
EFF
EFF may refer to:* The Effective Federal funds rate* Electronic Frontier Foundation, a U.S. non-profit advocacy group* Elf Fantasy Fair, a fantasy event in the Netherlands* Economic Freedom Fund, a U.S. political organization* Equipped for the Future, a U.S...

, which characterized it as a shakedown of non-profits. A website called Dearaol.com was launched, with an online petition and a blog that garnered hundreds of signatures from people and organizations expressing their opposition to AOL's use of Goodmail.

Esther Dyson
Esther Dyson
Esther Dyson is a former journalist and Wall Street technology analyst who is a leading angel investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and commentator focused on breakthrough innovation in healthcare, government transparency, digital technology, biotechnology, and space...

 defended the move in a New York Times editorial saying "I hope Goodmail succeeds, and that it has lots of competition. I also think it and its competitors will eventually transform into services that more directly serve the interests of mail recipients. Instead of the fees going to Goodmail and EON, they will also be shared with the individual recipients."

Other members of the antispam and blogging community were broadly critical of moveon.org and the EFF's attempts to characterize this as a "shakedown".

Tim Lee of the Technology Liberation Front posted an article that questioned the EFF's adopting a confrontational posture when dealing with private companies. Lee's article cited a series of discussions on Declan McCullagh
Declan McCullagh
Declan McCullagh is an American journalist and columnist for CBSNews.com. He specializes in computer security and privacy issues. He is notable, among other things, for his early involvement with the media interpretation of U.S...

's Politechbot mailing list on this subject between the EFF's Danny O'Brien and antispammer Suresh Ramasubramanian, who has also compared the EFF's tactics in opposing Goodmail to tactics used by Republican political strategist Karl Rove
Karl Rove
Karl Christian Rove was Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush until Rove's resignation on August 31, 2007. He has headed the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, and the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives...

. Spamassassin
SpamAssassin
SpamAssassin is a computer program released under the Apache License 2.0 used for e-mail spam filtering based on content-matching rules. It is now part of the Apache Foundation....

 developer Justin Mason posted some criticism of the EFF's and Moveon's "going overboard" in their opposition to the scheme.

The dearaol.com campaign lost momentum and disappeared, with the last post to the now defunct dearaol.com blog—"AOL starts the shakedown" being made on May 9, 2006.

Comcast
Comcast
Comcast Corporation is the largest cable operator, home Internet service provider, and fourth largest home telephone service provider in the United States, providing cable television, broadband Internet, and telephone service to both residential and commercial customers in 39 states and the...

, who also used the service, announced on its website that Goodmail has ceased operations and of as February 4, 2011 they will no longer use the service.

Search data


On August 4, 2006, AOL released a compressed text file on one of its websites containing twenty million search keywords for over 650,000 users over a 3-month period between March 1, 2006 and May 31, intended for research purposes. AOL pulled the file from public access by August 7, but not before its wide distribution on the Internet by others. Derivative research, titled A Picture of Search was published by authors Pass, Chowdhury and Torgeson for The First International Conference on Scalable Information Systems.

The data were used by Web sites such as AOLstalker for entertainment purposes, where users of AOLstalker are encouraged to judge AOL clients based on the humorousness of personal details revealed by search behavior.

User list exposure


Jason Smathers
Jason Smathers
Jason Smathers is a former employee of America Online.In February 2005, Smathers pled guilty to violations of the US CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Smathers was accused and convicted of illegally selling approximately 92 million AOL member screen names, belonging to 30 million AOL customers, to a third...

, an AOL employee, was convicted of stealing America Online's 92 million screen names and selling them to known spammers.

Company sales


AOL (Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

) has sold a number of its sub-companies in Europe. AOL Europe had six million users, but its subscription base had been steadily declining. In 2005, 287,000 European AOL online users migrated to other service providers.
In September 2006, AOL Germany's ISP business (AOL Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG
Kommanditgesellschaft
A Kommanditgesellschaft is the German name for a limited partnership business entity and is used in German, Austrian and some other European legal systems....

) was sold for $863m (€675m) to Telecom Italia
Telecom Italia
Telecom Italia is the largest Italian telecommunications company, also active in the media and manufacturing industries. Now a private concern listed on the Borsa Italiana, it was founded in 1994 by the merger of several state-owned telecommunications companies, the most important of which was...

. AOL's German web portal AOL Deutschland, however, is now operated by then newly founded AOL Deutschland Medien GmbH which still is a subsidiary of Time Warner. Today, AOL Deutschland offers virtually all free services of AOL.com (see below) in German versions as well as some of their own products, such as an AOL VISA
Visa
Visa or VISA may refer to:* Visa , a document issued by a country's government allowing the holder to enter or to leave that country...

 card.

In October 2006, AOL UK's ISP business was sold for $688m (£370m) to Carphone Warehouse.

Notable people



  • Marc Andreessen
    Marc Andreessen
    Marc Andreessen is an American entrepreneur, investor, software engineer, and multi-millionaire best known as co-author of Mosaic, the first widely-used web browser, and co-founder of Netscape Communications Corporation. He founded and later sold the software company Opsware to Hewlett-Packard...

     (Netscape co-founder and AOL Chief Technology Officer)
  • Jim Barksdale
    Jim Barksdale
    Jim Barksdale was the president and CEO of Netscape Communications Corporation from January 1995 until the company merged with AOL in March 1999.-Early life:...

     (former director)
  • John Barnes
    John Barnes (computer scientist)
    John Gilbert Presslie Barnes is a British computer scientist best known for his role in developing and publicising the Ada programming language....

     (former head researcher)
  • Randall Boe
    Randall Boe
    Randall Boe was General Counsel for AOL and has been involved in many ground breaking cases regarding internet law. He was born in Ohio and grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and graduated in 1983 with majors in political science and economics. He...

     (Executive Vice President and General Counsel)
  • Janice Brandt (former Vice Chair and Chief Marketing Officer)
  • Jason Calacanis
    Jason Calacanis
    Jason McCabe Calacanis is an American Internet entrepreneur and blogger. His first company was part of the dot-com era in New York, and his second venture, Weblogs, Inc., capitalized on the growth of blogs before being sold to AOL....

     (former CEO of Weblogs, Inc. and former GM of Netscape)
  • Steve Case
    Steve Case
    Stephen McConnell "Steve" Case is an American businessman best known as the co-founder and former chief executive officer and chairman of America Online . Since his retirement as chairman of AOL Time Warner in 2003, he has gone on to build a variety of new businesses through his investment...

     (former CEO and Board Chairman)
  • Mary Cheney
    Mary Cheney
    Mary Claire Cheney is the second daughter of Dick Cheney, the former Vice President of the United States, and his wife, Lynne Cheney. She is openly lesbian, has voiced support for same-sex marriage, and has been credited with encouraging her father to support same-sex marriage as well...

     (former Vice President for Consumer Advocacy)
  • Elwood Edwards
    Elwood Edwards
    Elwood Edwards is an American voice over actor. He is best known as the voice of the Internet service provider America Online, which he first recorded in 1989...

     (Voice actor for "You've got Mail")
  • Randy Falco
    Randy Falco
    Randy Falco, , is the Chief Executive Officer for Univision Communications Inc. since June 2011. He is charged with the task of capitalizing on the growth of the U.S. Latino population to steer the Spanish-language media company into the mainstream...

     (former CEO and Board Chairman)
  • Justin Frankel
    Justin Frankel
    Justin Frankel is an American computer programmer best known for his work on the Winamp media player application and for inventing the gnutella peer-to-peer network...

     (Nullsoft founder)
  • Maureen Govern
    Maureen Govern
    Maureen Govern was Chief Technology Officer at AOL at the time of their search data release. The researcher who released the data and his supervisor were reportedly fired....

     (former CTO)
  • Ron Grant
    Ronald Grant
    Ronald Grant was the President & Chief Operating Officer of AOL LLC. Grant worked with AOL and its parent company Time Warner since 1997.-Early life:...

     (former President and COO)
  • Alexander Haig
    Alexander Haig
    Alexander Meigs Haig, Jr. was a United States Army general who served as the United States Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford...

     (former Director)
  • Michael Jones
    Michael Jones (Internet entrepreneur)
    Michael Jones was named CEO of MySpace on October 1, 2010. In this role, Mike oversees global business operations for Myspace, Myspace Music and Myspace Mobile...

     (former CEO of Userplane
    Userplane
    Userplane is a white label service that offers both group-chat and one-to-one messenger services, which gives website owners the ability to offer chat between their users in a wall-gardened experience....

    )
  • Jim Kimsey
    Jim Kimsey
    James V. "Jim" Kimsey was the co-founder, CEO, and first chairman of internet service provider America Online .-Early life:...

     (former CEO and Board Chairman)
  • Ted Leonsis
    Ted Leonsis
    Theodore John Leonsis is an Internet pioneer, sports team owner, venture capital investor, filmmaker, author and philanthropist. His early new media company, Redgate Communications was acquired by America Online in 1994, and Leonsis became a senior AOL executive for the next 13 years...

     (Vice Chairman, President AOL Audience Group)
  • Jonathan Miller (former CEO and Board Chairman)
  • Robert W. Pittman
    Robert W. Pittman
    Robert Warren "Bob" Pittman , is an American businessman and the founder of MTV. On October 2, 2011, Pittman was named CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings, Inc.. Pittman has also been the CEO of MTV Networks, AOL, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate and Time Warner...

     (former President)
  • Michael Powell
    Michael Powell (politician)
    Michael Kevin Powell is an American Republican politician and lobbyist. He is the incoming president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association . He was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission by President Bill Clinton on 3 November 1997. President George W. Bush designated...

     (involved during merge with Time Warner
    Time Warner
    Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

    )
  • Stelios Rodokalia (Investor)
  • Barry Schuler
    Barry Schuler
    Barry Martin Schuler is an American Internet entrepreneur and former chairman and CEO of America Online Inc...

     (former CEO)
  • Marc Seriff
    Marc Seriff
    Marc S. Seriff is best known as the CTO and co-founder America Online, along with Jim Kimsey and Steve Case....

     (former CTO)
  • Jason Smathers
    Jason Smathers
    Jason Smathers is a former employee of America Online.In February 2005, Smathers pled guilty to violations of the US CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Smathers was accused and convicted of illegally selling approximately 92 million AOL member screen names, belonging to 30 million AOL customers, to a third...

     (former AOL employee convicted of stealing America Online's 92 million screen names and selling it to known spammers)
  • Jean Villanueva (former Vice President of Corporate Communications, married Steve Case in 1998)
  • Kelly Hallissey (Former CL, who in May 1999 launched, with Brian Williams a class action lawsuit citing labor law violations in federal court)
  • Brian Williams (Former CL, Creator of the Online Strike (known as row 800) and with Kelly Hallissey in May 1999 launched a class action lawsuit citing labor law violations in federal court)

Online security services


AOL's software incarnations have provided different combinations of security features, usually involving McAfee
McAfee
McAfee, Inc. is a computer security company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, USA. It markets software and services to home users, businesses and the public sector. On August 19, 2010, electronics company Intel agreed to purchase McAfee for $7.68 billion...

's VirusScan and Firewall software.

Timeline

  • In late 2005, AOL released AOL Safety & Security Center, a bundle of McAfee anti-virus, CA anti-spyware, and proprietary firewall and phishing protection software. The software was offered free of charge, but only to users with an AOL e-mail address or an AOL My eAddress running Microsoft Windows XP or 2000.
  • On June 8, 2006, AOL offered a new program called AOL Active Security Monitor. This is a diagnostic tool to check the local PC's security status, and recommends additional security software from AOL or Download.com
    Download.com
    Download.com is an Internet download directory website, launched in 1996 as a part of CNET. Originally, the domain was download.com.com. The domain download.com attracted at least 113 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study....

    . The program rated the computer on a variety of different areas of security and general computer health.
  • On August 7, 2006, AOL released AOL Active Virus Shield
    AOL Active Virus Shield
    AOL Active Virus Shield was a free antivirus utility made available by AOL. Its engine was based on the one used by Kaspersky Anti-Virus. The program is no longer available.-Features:...

    . This software was developed by Kaspersky Lab
    Kaspersky Lab
    Kaspersky Lab is a Russian computer security company, co-founded by Natalia Kaspersky and Eugene Kaspersky in 1997, offering anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and anti-intrusion products...

    . Active Virus Shield software was free and did not require an AOL account, only an internet e-mail address.
  • On July 18, 2007, AOL released "McAfee VirusScan
    McAfee VirusScan
    McAfee VirusScan is an antivirus program created and maintained by McAfee Inc. . McAfee markets VirusScan to home and home-office users; McAfee also develops VirusScan Enterprise for use in corporate environments...

     Plus: Special Edition from AOL" (VSP) to its free members, and a premium version, "McAfee Internet Security Suite: Special Edition from AOL" (MIS), to its paid subscribers. These replaced both the "AOL Safety and Security Center" and the now-defunct "AOL Active Virus Shield". MIS contained all components of VSP plus includes tools like automatic back-up.

Free services


On August 2, 2006, AOL announced a plan to offer "many" of its services free, with or without an AOL Internet connection."
  • Among the announced plans were free email services. AOL kept its promise by launching an e-mail service free of cost, and with unlimited storage space.
  • AIM (AOL Instant Messenger Chat rooms were included with the free service, but users were required to verify the age of an account created under the free plan using a credit card. AOL charged $1 to the credit card provided and then immediately refunded the charge.
  • AOL Video featured professional content and allowed users to upload videos as well. The original user-orientated video service was called UnCut Video, but was abandoned.
  • AOL Local comprised its CityGuide, Yellow Pages and Local Search services to help users find local information like restaurants, local events, and directory listings.
  • AOL News is a free news website available to the public.
  • AOL provided free usage of a custom domain name
    Domain name
    A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control in the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System ....

    , which it called an AOL My eAddress. This allowed users to create an e-mail address like 'example@whateveryouwant.com', and allowed up to 100 other addresses to be created. These e-mail accounts could be accessed in a manner similar to other AOL and AIM e-mail accounts.
  • Xdrive
    Xdrive (website)
    Xdrive was an online storage company based in the United States. Its key feature was a desktop client which integrated Windows Explorer with the user's Xdrive account. By default, the drive letter mapping was "X:". Early versions of the desktop client were based on WebDrive from South River...

    was a service offered by AOL which allowed users to back up their files over the Internet. It was closed on January 12, 2009.

  • Games.com was an online page featuring browser-based games. it is part of the main AOL website, under games.
  • AOLAnswers, a Q&A website service formerly known as Yedda.
  • Shortcuts.com, a free service of AOL, was a comprehensive savings destination offering consumers multiple savings opportunities including Electronic Coupons, Printable Coupons, Mobile Coupons, Online Coupons Codes and Cash Back Savings. Partnering with top companies such as News America Marketing, Kroger, Safeway, and many more, Shortcuts.com is the consumer destination for free savings offers.

Other developments

  • In late 2006, AOL began offering free and unlimited digital picture storage for both free and paid accounts. Original resolutions are preserved, and an ActiveX
    ActiveX
    ActiveX is a framework for defining reusable software components in a programming language-independent way. Software applications can then be composed from one or more of these components in order to provide their functionality....

     control provides a drag-n-drop interface within web browsers, permitting users to drop an entire folder of photos into the web page to upload them.
  • On October 4, 2006, AOL released a free Internet suite called AOL OpenRide
    AOL OpenRide
    AOL OpenRide was an Internet application suite made by AOL that combined e-mail, instant-messaging, a web browser and a media player in one window...

    , which combined a web browser, instant messenger, email client and media player.
  • On February 16, 2007, it was announced that AOL began supporting OpenID
    OpenID
    OpenID is an open standard that describes how users can be authenticated in a decentralized manner, eliminating the need for services to provide their own ad hoc systems and allowing users to consolidate their digital identities...

    .
  • On March 13, 2008, AOL purchased the popular networking site Bebo
    Bebo
    Bebo is a social networking website launched in July 2005. It is currently owned and operated by Criterion Capital Partners after taking over from AOL in June 2010....

     for $850m (£417m).
  • On July 25, 2008 AOL announced it was shedding Xdrive
    Xdrive (website)
    Xdrive was an online storage company based in the United States. Its key feature was a desktop client which integrated Windows Explorer with the user's Xdrive account. By default, the drive letter mapping was "X:". Early versions of the desktop client were based on WebDrive from South River...

    , AOL Pictures, and BlueString to save on costs and focus on its core advertising business. AOL Pictures was terminated on December 31, 2008.
  • On October 31, 2008, AOL Hometown
    AOL Hometown
    AOL Hometown was a web hosting service offered by AOL. It offered 12 megabytes of server space for AOL subscribers to publish their own websites, and included an own WYSIWYG online website builder called 1-2-3 Publish not requiring knowledge of HTML...

     (a web hosting service for the websites of AOL customers) and the AOL Journal blog hosting service were eliminated, after first announcing the impending shutdown on September 30, 2008
  • Since January, 2009, AOL News has discontinued its Comments Page for remodeling to filter out obscene or aggressive postings from users.
  • On February 25, 2009, AOL merged AIM Profiles with Bebo.
  • On April 6, 2010, AOL announced that they were planning to shut down or sell Bebo. This has been successfully concluded but with a huge loss on investment.
  • In February 2011, AOL purchased The Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post is an American news website and content-aggregating blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti, featuring liberal minded columnists and various news sources. The site offers coverage of politics, theology, media, business, entertainment, living, style,...

     for $315 million. Shortly after the acquisition was announced, Huffingtonpost.com co-founder Arianna Huffington assumed the role of President and Editor-in-Chief of The AOL Huffington Post Media group. Huffington replaced David Eun. She oversees the development of all editorial content from both companies including news, technology, music and local media websites.

Movie studios partnership



On Friday, August 25, 2006, AOL announced that it had signed a deal with several major movie studios to open an online video store allowing users to "download to own" full length movies and television shows. The deal was signed with News Corporation
News Corporation
News Corporation or News Corp. is an American multinational media conglomerate. It is the world's second-largest media conglomerate as of 2011 in terms of revenue, and the world's third largest in entertainment as of 2009, although the BBC remains the world's largest broadcaster...

's 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation — also known as 20th Century Fox, or simply 20th or Fox — is one of the six major American film studios...

, Sony
Sony
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

 Corp.'s Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the home video distribution arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation. It was established in November 1979 as Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment, releasing 20 titles: The Anderson Tapes, Bell, Book and Candle, Born Free, Breakout,...

, NBC Universal
NBC Universal
NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a media and entertainment company engaged in the production and marketing of entertainment, news, and information products and services to a global customer base...

's Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
-1920:* White Youth* The Flaming Disc* Am I Dreaming?* The Dragon's Net* The Adorable Savage* Putting It Over* The Line Runners-1921:* The Fire Eater* A Battle of Wits* Dream Girl* The Millionaire...

, and former corporate sibling Warner Home Entertainment Group
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video is the home video unit of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., itself part of Time Warner. It was founded in 1978 as WCI Home Video . The company launched in the United States with twenty films on VHS and Betamax videocassettes in late 1979...

.

See also

  • .art
    ART image file format
    ART is a proprietary image file format used mostly by the America Online service and client software.- Technical details :The ART format holds a single still image that has been highly compressed. The format was designed to facilitate the quick downloading of images, among other things...

  • AOL Explorer
    AOL Explorer
    AOL Explorer, previously known as AOL Browser, is a graphical web browser based on the Microsoft Trident layout engine and was released by AOL. In July 2005, AOL launched AOL Explorer as a free download and as an optional download with AIM version 5.9. AOL Explorer supports tabbed...

  • AOL Instant Messenger
    AOL Instant Messenger
    AOL Instant Messenger is an instant messaging and presence computer program which uses the proprietary OSCAR instant messaging protocol and the TOC protocol to allow registered users to communicate in real time. It was released by AOL in May 1997...

  • AOL Mail
  • AOL Radio
    AOL Radio
    AOL Radio powered by Slacker, , is an online radio service available only in the United States.- Roots :...

  • AOHell
    AOHell
    AOHell was a tool that greatly simplified 'cracking' online using AOL.-Origin:Released in 1994 by hackers known as "The Rizzer" & "Da Chronic", AOHell provided a number of utilities which ran on top of the America Online client software...

  • Comparison of webmail providers
    Comparison of webmail providers
    The following tables and gallery compare general and technical information for a number of webmail providers. Please see the individual products' articles for further information.- General information :...

  • Compuserve
    CompuServe
    CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates...

  • Dot-com bubble
    Dot-com bubble
    The dot-com bubble was a speculative bubble covering roughly 1995–2000 during which stock markets in industrialized nations saw their equity value rise rapidly from growth in the more...

  • Eternal September
    Eternal September
    Eternal September is a Usenet slang expression, coined by Dave Fischer, for the period beginning September 1993...

  • Inside-AOL.com
  • Live365
    Live365
    Live365 is an Internet radio network where members can create their own online radio station or listen to other Live365 broadcasters' online stations. As of October 2006, there were about 6,500 active stations, some of which play niche genres seldom heard on AM/FM radio...

  • Prodigy
  • Quantum-Link Reloaded
  • Sessions@AOL
    Sessions@AOL
    Sessions@AOL is a special avenue of programming conducted by AOL Music. Originally an AOL exclusive, Sessions@AOL can now also be seen as an avenue for non-AOL users as well. Sessions@AOL consists of exclusive and intimate performances of songs by popular musicians, with likes of bands such as...

  • Truveo
    Truveo
    Truveo is a search engine for Web video, based in San Francisco and operated by AOL. Truveo was founded in 2004 by Timothy Tuttle and Adam Beguelin. Truveo launched its first commercial video search service in September 2005. Truveo was acquired by AOL in January 2006...

  • Web search engine
    Web search engine
    A web search engine is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web and FTP servers. The search results are generally presented in a list of results often referred to as SERPS, or "search engine results pages". The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other...


External links


National portals


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