Friday, January 18, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 18, 1999 -- MLK Jr. Remembered

January 18, 1999: Monday was the commemoration of the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; I don't remember if we got it as a holiday or not (possibly so, which would explain why we only had one version of the page); the other promos include a video game of the year guide and toys:

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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, January 17, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 17, 1999 -- NFL, AIM, DVD

January 17, 1999: Standard Sunday promo with the NFL playoffs (featuring Vinnie Testaverde for Jets vs. Broncos for the AFC Championship... the Jets lost), with text promos for AIM and DVD movies and players:

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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, January 16, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 16, 1999 -- Spring Break Getaways

January 16, 1999: The depth of winter is the best time to promote planning for spring break getaways, and we used a stock photo of a beach pyramid. The text promos include a Pet Finder Decision Guide, and AOL Autos:

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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, January 15, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 15, 1999 -- "Phantom Menace" Preview

January 15, 1999: Remember the Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace teaser promo photo that got everyone excited? The one with the shadow of Darth Vader looming over a young Anakin Skywalker? Focus on that, and not how you felt after you actually saw Phantom Menace.

We let this promo run all day, along with a Digital City dining out guide and online CD shopping; of course, the Clinton impeachment trial continued:

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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, January 14, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 14, 1999 -- Impeachment Trial Opens, Stocks Slammed, Y2K Preparations

January 14, 1999: The main graphic promo featured Diet and Fitness and more women in sports bras to start the day, but as seen in the My News dynamic headline, the Clinton impeachment trial opened today:
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The PM update featured news of a big stock sell-off, as well as the first top-block mention of Y2K, with an altogether too-obvious R.E.M. 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.]

Sunday, January 13, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 13, 1999 -- Michael Jordan Retires, Stocks Swing

January 13, 1999: We started the top spot with the news that broke the previous night that Michael Jordan was retiring... for the second time. The text promos are for Hometown AOL and CD-buying online; you can also see the My News block that references the stocks markets dropping; this foreshadowed the next few page updates (not surprisingly, we were kind of preoccupied on the state of tech stocks):
First, "Stocks Drop" at 11:04am: 
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Then, "Stocks Swing" at 11:14am as stocks rebounded:
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Finally, closing out the PM update with a recap of the day's dip and really:
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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, January 12, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 12, 1999 -- Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" Released

January 12, 1999: Guessing that entertainment media is all over this today, but ...Baby One More Time was released 20 years ago today, so naturally we had Britney Spears up on the home page all day and all night (just doing a photo change for the PM lineup):


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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, January 11, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 11, 1999 -- More Not-So Hidden Messages, Peer Pressure, Shania Twain

January 11, 1999: The lead promo reads: "You Deserve a Raise: Use the Web to find a better job;" 1999 was nearing the peak of the dotcom bubble, and for some time, it had been normal for AOLers to job-hop internally, chasing raises and more stock options.

By that time, I'd been in the same group and essentially the same job for about 2 years, which seemed charmingly retro.

The first text promo applies a little peer pressure for upgrading to AOL 4.0. 


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For the PM update, we switched to Shania Twain and the American Music Awards. She won best female Country Artist, though Garth Brooks took Artist of the Year.

We also switched to an AIM promo in the top spot, though thinking back, it probably would have made more sense to promote AIM downloads during the day and AOL downloads at night, considering the work audiences. Oh well:
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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, January 10, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 10, 1999 -- Vikings vs. Cards in the NFL Playoffs

January 10, 1999: Generic winter Sunday promo featuring NFL playoff action (with a Randy Moss photo), AIM, and apparel shopping:

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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, January 09, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 9, 1999 -- Autos and Terrible House Ads

January 9, 1999: Generic Saturday promo with new cars, downloads, and online clothes shopping.

I take this moment to direct your attention to the sampling of house ads in the bottom of the ad block; first off, in the AIM block, according to the faux editor's marking, the text should be "CLICK FREE! HERE!", while in the AOL 4.0 ad, I can't tell if the people are dancing or fighting:


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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, January 08, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 8, 1999 -- That Other Trial

January 8, 1999: The Clinton impeachment trial continued, but Fridays were movie promotion days, so the top spot was for the John Travolta flick A Civil Action. In the text promos, we had a "heat-seeking" wordplay for travel and an Inspector Gadget reference.

I don't have a PM update archived, so either we didn't do one because it wasn't needed for a Friday, or I didn't capture it:
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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, January 07, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 7, 1999 -- AOL NetMail (Oh, and the Clinton Impeachment Trial Begins)

January 7, 1999: We started the Thursday with a house promo for AOL NetMail (also note the AOL Autos house ad jackpotting in the ad block) then did a PM switch to highlight the kickoff of the Clinton impeachment trial:


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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, January 06, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 6, 1999 -- 106th Congress Convenes; NBA Lockout Ends

January 6, 1999: We started the day with a Personal Finance lead graphic promo, followed by text promos for AOL 4.0 and buying DVDs online. Also, as the My News promo shows, the 106th Congress convened:

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Then in the PM update, we featured a photo of Michael Jordan as an agreement was reached to end the NBA lockout:
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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, January 05, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 5, 1999 -- Introducing Two-a-Day Updates, Plus U.S. vs. Iraq Dogfight

January 5, 1999: The lead promo features a family skiing stock photo for a vacation travel promo, while the first text promo still targets new 'net users, and the second text promo has a pretty damn cryptic promo for online book shopping.

More importantly, with the real start of the New Year, we started doing regular two-a-day promo block updates: As before, the new day's content went live at 3AM ET:
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Then, we'd push a late afternoon/early evening update to get us into primetime, usually with an Entertainment focus (like the Lauryn Hill and Grammy feature).

Also, the My News headline captured here is "U.S., Iraqi Planes in Dogfight," referencing a confrontation in the southern no-fly zone:
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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, January 04, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 4, 1999 -- Buddy Chat

January 4, 1999: As I recall, Buddy Chat was a feature of AOL/AIM that allowed users to create their own private group chat rooms. Meanwhile, we continued our series of Personal Finance "Get Rich Clicks," featuring tips for saving more in '99.

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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, January 03, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 3, 1999 -- New Year, New Job

January 3, 1999: The lead promo reads, "Find a better job that pays more." I'm sure this wasn't any commentary on my own position.

In the text promos, we have more Get Rich Clicks and a Ramones 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.]

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 2, 1999 -- New Year's Fitness and More Get Rich Clicks

January 2, 1999: More New Year's fitness promos means more women in sports bras, plus picking hot stocks in 1999.

I think we gradually ramped down our references to 1999 as the novelty faded. But not yet. 
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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, January 01, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Jan. 1, 1999 -- Welcome to 1999? Also, Get Rich Clicks

January 1, 1999: There's no explicit message saying "Happy New Year" anywhere on the page, and I think this was a conscious decision because of time zones. At this point (and in fact, at no point in my tenure doing the AOL.com home page), we weren't tailoring home page content for US time zones—the new day's content published at 3am ET, and everyone say the same content. If we tried to follow the ball drop in real-time, depending on where you saw the page, it would either be early or late and would look silly for folks outside of Eastern Standard Time. (Just because we were soaking in east coast media elitism didn't mean we weren't aware of basic geography.)

The lead promo (thoughtfully annotated—because you cant' see dark blue "clicked link" text on a black background—by whoever was apparently helping me by taking the screenshot and presumably authoring the promo, leading me to reconsider whether I actually did take this time off) says, "Find the best mutual funds for 1999."

The text promos reference Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl action, as well as CD-buying online:
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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.]