53 Facts About AOL


AOL grew to become the largest online service, displacing established players like CompuServe and The Source.

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AOL was one of the early pioneers of the Internet in the mid-1990s, and the most recognized brand on the web in the United States.

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AOL rapidly shrank thereafter, partly due to the decline of dial-up and rise of broadband.

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AOL was eventually spun off from Time Warner in 2009, with Tim Armstrong appointed the new CEO.

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AOL began in 1983, as a short-lived venture called Control Video Corporation, founded by William von Meister.

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AOL quickly surpassed GEnie, and by the mid-1990s, it passed Prodigy and CompuServe.

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In November 1994, AOL purchased Booklink for its web browser, to give its users web access.

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In 1996, AOL replaced Booklink with a browser based on Internet Explorer, allegedly in exchange for inclusion of AOL in Windows.

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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, NPR, The Princeton Review, Stanley Kaplan, Barron's, Highlights for Kids, the U S Department of Education, and many other education providers.

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AOL offered the first real-time homework help service, the first service by children, for children, the first online service for parents, the first online courses, the first omnibus service for teachers, the first online exhibit, the first parental controls, and many other online education firsts.

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AOL purchased search engine WebCrawler in 1995, but sold it to Excite the following year; the deal made Excite the sole search and directory service on AOL.

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AOL charged its users an hourly fee until December 1996, when the company changed to a flat monthly rate of $19.

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In 1995 AOL was headquartered at 8619 Westwood Center Drive in the Tysons Corner CDP in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near the Town of Vienna.

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AOL was quickly running out of room in October 1996 for its network at the Fairfax County campus.

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In mid-1996, AOL moved to 22000 AOL Way in Dulles, unincorporated Loudoun County, Virginia to provide room for future growth.

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In November 1998, AOL announced it would acquire Netscape, best known for their web browser, in a major $4.

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The decline continued though 2001, but even with the losses, AOL was among the internet giants that continued to outperform brick and mortar companies.

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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.

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Also that month, AOL informed its US customers it would be increasing the price of its dial-up access to US$25.

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However, AOL subsequently began offering unlimited dial-up access for $9.

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In December 2006, AOL closed their last remaining call center in the United States, "taking the America out of America Online" according to industry pundits.

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AOL management stressed "significant operations" will remain in Dulles, which included the company's access services and modem banks.

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In October 2007, AOL announced it would move one of its other headquarters from Loudoun County, Virginia, to New York City, while continuing to operate its Virginia offices.

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Under Armstrong's leadership, AOL began taking steps in a new business direction, marked by a series of acquisitions.

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AOL announced it would offer gross rating point guarantee for online video, mirroring the TV ratings system and guaranteeing audience delivery for online video advertising campaigns bought across its properties.

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Later that year, AOL acquired Vidible, which developed technology to help websites run video content from other publishers, and help video publishers sell their content to these websites.

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AOL had about two million dial-up subscribers at the time of the buyout.

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AOL has a global portfolio of media brands and advertising services across mobile, desktop, and TV.

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AOL acquired a number of businesses and technologies help to form ONE by AOL.

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AOL offers a range of integrated products and properties including communication tools, mobile apps and services and subscription packages.

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AOL Desktop is an internet suite produced by AOL from 2007 that integrates a web browser, a media player and an instant messenger client.

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Version 11 of AOL Desktop, was a total rewrite but maintained a similar user interface to the previous 9.

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The marketing tactic was criticized for its environmental cost, and AOL CDs were recognized as PC Worlds most annoying tech product.

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AOL used a system of volunteers to moderate its chat rooms, forums and user communities.

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AOL provided free access to community leaders in exchange for moderating the chat rooms, and this effectively made chat very cheap to operate, and more lucrative than AOL's other services of the era.

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In May 1999, two former volunteers filed a class-action lawsuit alleging AOL violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by treating volunteers like employees.

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The class action lawsuit dragged on for years, even after AOL ended the program and AOL declined as a major internet company.

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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.

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Previously, AOL would add 15 seconds to the time a user was connected to the service and round up to the next whole minute .

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AOL disclosed its connection-time calculation methods to all of its customers and credited them with extra free hours.

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AOL was sued by the Ohio Attorney General in October 2003 for improper billing practices.

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AOL agreed to resolve any consumer complaints filed with the Ohio AG's office.

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In December 2006, AOL agreed to provide restitution to Florida consumers to settle the case filed against them by the Florida Attorney General.

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Many customers complained that AOL personnel ignored their demands to cancel service and stop billing.

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For several years, AOL had instituted minimum retention or "save" percentages, which consumer representatives were expected to meet.

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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.

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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.

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AOL estimated that it would lose more than six million subscribers over the following year.

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AOL did list the newsgroup in the alternative description view, but changed the description to "Flames and complaints about America Online".

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AOL then provided community-based message boards in lieu of Usenet.

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AOL has a detailed set of guidelines and expectations for users on their service, known as the Terms of Service .

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In early 2005, AOL stated its intention to implement a certified email 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.

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At one time, most AOL users had an online "profile" hosted by the AOL Hometown service.

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