Monday, November 12, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 12, 1998 -- AOL Netmail Again

November 12, 1998: Once again, going to the "check your AOL email at work" well with an AOL NetMail main promo, then stock quotes and a Martha Stewart reference in a holiday shopping promo.

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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Sunday, November 11, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 11, 1998 -- Leo's a Scorpio

November 11, 1998: We celebrated Leonardo DiCaprio's 24th birthday by pointing to some manner of celebrity gossip/news in the Entertainment Web Center. In the text promos, we have a Veterans Day promo and a ridiculous auction deals shopping promo (99% discounts... come on):


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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Saturday, November 10, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 10, 1998 -- Winter Women's Health

November 10, 1998: Lead promo features pretty stock photo woman to promote Women's Health content, which basically meant exercise and diet content. The top text promo features the all-new AOL 4.0, while the second features online shopping for the anti-procrastinator.

In the Web Centers column, you can see pencil markings for what looks like proposed adjustments to the listing order, presumably based on their popularity. (Or at least our perceptions of their popularity. This starts to get into our metrics process, which I'll get into more later.)
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Friday, November 09, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 9, 1998 -- Free Chat Now With AOL Instant Messenger

November 9, 1998: Another AIM promo, using the same non-animated fake chat window as before. In the second music text promo, Pump Up Your Jams is clearly a Technotronic reference.

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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Thursday, November 08, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 8, 1998 -- 'The X-Files' Season 6 Premieres

November 8, 1998: The X-Files kicked off Season 6, so we featured a Gillian Anderson pic in the lead promo spot. Other than that, a seasonally relevant Home & Garden Web Center promo, and a shopping promo featuring an infuriating lack of serial comma. I guess it was AOL style at the time. Or I was a very different person back then:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 7, 1998 -- Glenn Down, Newt Out

November 7, 1998: The lead promo featured a dressed-up Donna Summer reference in the service of a Personal Finance quiz, but the better headline was in the next text promo, "Glenn Down, Newt Out"—as in John Glenn returning from his second space flight and Newt Gingrich stepping down as Speaker.

The second text promo also features a John Glenn tie-in, since it promoted the Tom Wolfe book, A Man in Full, using a reference to his earlier work on the space race that featured Glenn as one of the Mercury Seven.
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 6, 1998 -- "The Siege" Turns Into a Newt

November 6, 1998: The Friday started with a standard weekend lineup, featuring the Denzel Washington movie The Siege (about the loss of civil liberties after a series of radical Islamist terrorist attacks, ha ha I know right?) when suddenly....

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...Newt Gingrich resigned as Speaker of the House. The serial adulterer, a key figure in the Clinton impeachment process, was succeeded by Dennis Hastert, serial child molester.
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Monday, November 05, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 5, 1998 -- Last Chance to Win

November 5, 1998: The lead promo featured the last chance to enter a My News registration sweepstakes (for a whopping $500 in books, presumably from Amazon) in what was probably the most... promotional promo we'd run in the top spot to date.

The other two promos were a bit cheekier, with "the boss isn't looking" and "babies aren't little people" and all that.
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Sunday, November 04, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 4, 1998 -- Fall Foliage Travel

November 4, 1998: A generic tout for cheap holiday fares disguised as a fall travel promo in the main spot, along with election results in My News and a Music shopping promo.

Oh, and dig the redundant AIM promos in the Free Products column: One for the AIM 1.0 client, and the AIM 2.0 Beta.

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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Saturday, November 03, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 3, 1998 -- Election Day

November 3, 1998: For Election Day, we went with a red, white, and blue color scheme in the top block (well, blue, white, and red), promoting election results, which apparently weren't that dramatic:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Friday, November 02, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 2, 1998 -- Barbra Streisand Live Chat Event

November 2, 1998: Barbra Streisand did her first-ever online appearance in an AOL Live chat, apparently as part of a get-out-the-vote effort for the next day's election. We did an evening content update with a different photo and color block.

An event writeup—with full main stage transcript!—is online. AOL Live events at the time were fully text-only events. They were exclusive to the AOL service; I'd forgotten that they were accessible, or even visible, to the web audience. (Maybe this was a special exception.) Because they were text-only, many people were skeptical if the featured celebrity guest was on the other end of the line. (This was before the Reddit AMA-style proof became a thing.)

Anyway, in auditorium events, everyone could see the chat from the main stage, and you could text chat with the members of your "row" (maybe 10-20 people, I forget). You could submit your comments and questions to the event runners, who'd select questions that the guest would answer for all to see, but other than that, you'd only be interacting with members of your row... which many, many people did not understand.
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Thursday, November 01, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Nov. 1, 1998 -- Alanis Replay

November 1, 1998: For a Sunday, we didn't promote football, but instead ran another promo for the Alanis Morissette CD. The first text promo was a suitably post-Halloween Health promo, while second one teases the next day's AOL Live event with Barbra Streisand, which I'd completely forgotten was a thing that happened.
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Oct. 31, 1998 -- Are "Free Halloween Downloads" a Trick or Treat?

October 31, 1998: Halloween was on a Saturday, so naturally we promoted Halloween downloads, since there's no more natural Halloween activity than downloading a pumpkin screensaver, wallpaper, or mouse icon.

I'm not sure what the scary TV and movies promo pointed to; either TV listings, or an Entertainment package on horror movies.

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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Oct. 30, 1998 -- Garlic Stinks... Does John Carpenter's "Vampires"?

October 30, 1998: John Carpenter's Vampires was the lead promo. I have no answer for the question posed in the headline, though I will say that in the late 1990s, I still hadn't developed a taste for garlic, which explains the wording.

John Glenn's historic space mission remained in the top block as a text promo.

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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Monday, October 29, 2018

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Oct. 29, 1998 -- John Glenn Returns to Space

October 29, 1998: At age 77, John Glenn became the oldest man (and first sitting Senator) to fly in space on Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-95. We did two updates as we got new photos and content updates; the news package link remained the same, so all I had to do was post a new photo:
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All of the these were screenshots of the live page, so the ad lineups are 100% accurate.
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]