5 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About AOL

In 2011, AOL, Inc., announced that it would buy the Huffington Post for a whopping $315 million. AOL's fortunes have changed over the years, but the company continues to new ways to stay visible. Here are 5 surprising facts you probably didn't know about AOL...


The Man Who Recorded the Iconic "You've Got Mail" Was Paid Only $200. Elwood Edwards is the man behind one of the most famous second-and-a-half voice snippets ever recorded: the "You've Got Mail!" notification that millions of AOL users heard for years. What's interesting is that not only did Edwards' wife volunteer his voice to then-CEO Steve Case, but Edwards recorded the line on a cassette deck. The folks at AOL digitized it to add to their software. He was paid only $200, and not given any royalties. In fact, as of 2016, he was working as an Uber driver.

They Were Originally Named "Quantum Computer Services" AOL was founded in 1985 as Quantum Computer Services, an online services company by Jim Kimsey from the remnants of Control Video Corporation. In 1991, Quantum was renamed America Online. AOL became one of the early pioneers of the Internet, providing dial-up service to over 30 million members worldwide. In 2001, at the height of its popularity, it purchased the media conglomerate Time Warner in the largest merger in U.S. history. AOL rapidly declined thereafter, partly due to the decline of dial-up and rise of broadband.


AOL Still Has Millions of Dial-Up Users Despite all its issues, AOL is still alive and kicking. A couple of million people still use the company's dial-up services and many more have aol.com email addresses. Dial-up allows people with limited broadband/DSL/wireless access to get online because all they need is a working phone line, and dial-up services are much cheaper, too. As for the email users, while the address is seen as a sign of refusing to keep up with the times, the reality is that, after 20 or 30 years with the same email address, switching to a new one can be a major hassle.

At One Point AOL Made Half of All CDs Produced During the 1990s, it seemed like a signup CD for AOL came in the mail every other day. Ever wonder exactly how many discs the company produced? TechCrunch, acquired by AOL in 2010, wanted to know, and tried to get quotes from Case and other execs from that era. The most shocking piece of info was given to TechCrunch by a former AOL marketing chief: "At one point, 50 percent of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it. We were logging in new subscribers at the rate of one every six seconds."

AOL CDs Were Tested for the Effects of Freezing and Thawing -- Because They Were Packaged With Meat. AOL CDs showed up frequently in the mail, in magazine inserts, attached to cereal boxes, and more. They were also, at one point, included with frozen Omaha steaks, which meant that the CDs had to be tested for resilience after freezing and thawing. AOL CDs were created to give people a way to connect to the internet at a time when not many people were online as much as they are now, and many AOL CDs are now collector's items.