Whatever happened to …

… AOL?

I was looking through the Padlet for ideas for this post and ran across this from an anonymous source.

Where did AOL go?Remember having you mail box BOMBARDED with those free AOL floppy-disks; the TV commercials sporting the <> voice advising you that ”You’ve got mail!” AOL took North Americans by storm faster than a hurricanes surge waves, and the other day (while checking my e-mail inbox, naturally) a memory of the first time I logged on to the internet popped into my mind briefly leaving behind the question I can’t figure out. What ever happened to AOL?

I actually had a related post and that was about AOL Messenger. You can read it here.

I never signed up or created an account there. This goes back to the original days of getting connected via your computer, a phone line, and a modem. AOL was a portal all to itself. You’d log in and have everything that you’d ever need all in one spot.

That was kind of important since connection speeds were so slow (56K was impressive) so you could actually spend all kinds of time online doing very little. My goto at the time was the Education Network of Ontario (ENOREO) instead. It was there that “dougpete” was assigned to me. You didn’t ask for an ID back then; you asked for access and they gave you a login and password.

I guess, at the time, my connected interests were pretty small. I used dialing into one of the eight local phone lines as my connection to the world which was a real subset composed of Ontario educators. The speeds and interface were slow by today’s standards so we were hardly “active”. Like online services, includung AOL, there were special interest groups that you could join and, as always, email. Connecting via dialup was never a guaranteed activity. There’s a whole message devoted to it – CARRIER LOST.

Like the suggester, I got AOL diskettes all the time in the mail. If that wasn’t enough, people in the building I worked at would put their unsolicited diskettes in my mailbox because “Doug was the computer guy”, I guess. The diskettes would get reformatted and served as backup diskettes for me and I had a collection that was actually a complete installation of Windows. My storage at the time was an old shoebox which would nicely hold two rows and two levels of diskettes.

So, today? Well, AOL is still there. It has a presence at https://www.aol.ca/ and serves as a portal to news and entertainment. It even has a search engine, powered by BING. The navigation menu looks like this:

There even is an option to create an account, login, get an email address, and do all kinds of things from its current presence. It has the same sort of approach as a one stop link to take you anywhere you’d want to go.

For a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • Did you have an AOL account? How about any of the competitors at the time – Compuserve, Sprint, etc.
  • Do you have an AOL account today?
  • Did you have an ENOREO.on.ca account?
  • Do you remember getting those diskettes in the mail? What did you do with them?
  • How big was your collection of diskettes? Was it big enough for a shoebox? Bigger or smaller?
  • How do you get rid of diskettes? Can any of it be recycled?
  • Do you have a routine that could be handled by a portal or do you connect randomly to web resources, making a portal not helpful.

Help the conversation by sharing your remembrances of AOL. Or, share your joy for having missed it all. Regardless of your tact, a comment below is great.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. All of the past posts can be found here, including a link to the Padlet if you’ve got an idea for a future post.


5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, would you believe that I still have an AOL account?! I rarely use it, but I do love how it says, “You’ve Got Mail.” Reminds me of the movie with the same title. Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane that’s actually still a reality for me. Imagine if you did, “what happened to flip phones” last week? 🙂



  2. AOL is still very much alive. I was helping a senior in the states (part of my CyberSeniors volunteer work) who was still using AOL mail and was paying them a lot of money for AOL security software. She was getting royally scammed, paying $15 (US) per month for services that savvy users like us get for free.


  3. Back in the day, I started with CompuServe and ENOREO. I had no time for AOL floppy disks, but we made great carts and hovercrafts using the AOL CDs as low friction wheels and hovercraft basis.


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