This morning, AOL announced it was being purchased by Verizon for $4.4 billion in cash, and starting a new, wireless-provider-subsidiary chapter in its 30-year life.
AOL still has more than two million dial-up subscribers, but its days as an Internet portal are long gone. As Peter Kafka of Re/code explains, today's AOL is "part ad tech operation, part publisher." It owns content businesses like the Huffington Post and TechCrunch, but it has also gotten into the business of building automated ad sales platforms for other publishers — a business that has become its fastest-growing segment, and is reportedly much of the reason Verizon wanted to acquire it.
Although AOL has gone through a lot of changes over the years, we still remember it as the 1990s gateway to the World Wide Web — the one that mailed out "100 Free Hours!" CDs and disconnected us when our parents picked up the phone. Here are five commercials to jog your memory of the AOL that used to be:
1994: AOL 4.0 is announced. "With 56k, connections are faster than ever!"
1995: "With America Online, you can point and click your way across the Internet!"
1995: A man shocks his friend by using AOL to find kayaking friends online. "All you need is a computer and a regular phone line."
1998: A new AOL ad promises "no more computer mumbo-jumbo."
2004: AOL's release of version 9.0 coincided with the last known footage of a human being who is excited to receive an AOL disk in the mail. (There are also cameos by Jerry Stiller and Snoop Dogg.)