Saturday, February 23, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 23, 1999 -- Stress Quiz and Sports

February 23, 1999: We started out with an stress quiz using an amusing retro stock photo, along with Hometown AOL and online apparel shopping:
1999_02_23

For the PM update, we went with another Sports item featuring baseball and Big Unit Randy Johnson. In the My News items, we see a conviction in the Texas dragging death of James Byrd, Jr., as well as more on the Kosovo War:
1999_02_23b
[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, February 22, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 22, 1999 -- Tech Stocks Rocket, Plus a Sampling of Finance News Items (Including a Bernie Madoff Cameo)

February 22, 1999: We started the day with a Personal Finance promo on top stocks and mutual funds (along with computer buying and online auctions), which was a nice transition into...

1999_02_22
...the PM update, where tech stocks apparently had a good day.

As mentioned, we focused a lot on tech stocks in our Personal Finance features, because of 1. Dotcom Bubble and 2. Stock Options:
Side note: As I was looking at CNN Money stories from 2/22/99, here's a sampling of other items:
  • Securitas bought Pinkerton's, creating the world's largest full-service security firm
  • A check-in on the Microsoft antitrust trial, where the government used Microsoft internal emails during a cross-examination of firm general manager of new technology Daniel Rosen to show that the company did see Netscape as a competitor. (Rosen admitted to composing the email but not sending it. Yeah.)
  • A Nasdaq panel voted against trading halts for the Nasdaq, which were seen as a way to help protect small, individual investors—many of whom were new players thanks to online brokerage firms. Irony alert: Quoted in the article: "Bernard Madoff, head of a trading firm that matches buyers and sellers on Nasdaq who supports the use of halts, predicts they will be approved eventually but says they won't be a cure-all. 'The halts aren't going to cure volatility, they're just going to limit it,' he told CNNfn."
[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, February 21, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 21, 1999 -- Free Live Chat

February 21, 1999: We dusted off the animated Free Live Chat AIM promo. It rocks! Also, oddly, we used a text link to promote the News/My News Pictures of the Week feature:
1999_02_21
[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, February 20, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 20, 1999 -- What Will Mac (Mark McGwire) Do?

February 20, 1999: We went with a Saturday sports promo with a baseball season preview featuring Mark McGwire, posing a semi-rhetorical question without realizing that the answer 20 years later would include, "not get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame because his career was built on a foundation of performance-enhancing drugs."
1999_02_20
[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, February 19, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 19, 1999 -- Jennifer Aniston Is Not Beavis (duh): "Office Space" Opens

February 19, 1999: Either we were uncharacteristically prescient in seeing the enduring appeal of the workplace comedy Office Space, or it was a dead movie release weekend, or we just wanted to feature Jennifer Aniston in the lead promo spot, but we led with the Mike Judge film all day (using a really dumb "She's Not Beavis" headline, ugh):
1999_02_19


1999_02_19b
[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, February 18, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 18, 1999 -- The Return of Crop-Top Spandex Fitness Stock Art Women and the Departure of George Clooney from ER

February 18, 1999: Another "Tone Up, Slim Down" workout tips promo, along with the AIM sweeps and name-dropping Madonna, Mariah, and Shania for CD buying:

1999_02_18


We did a noon-ish update to pull the duplicate AIM sweeps update from the Community column and added some whitespace above the Oscars special in the Shortcuts column:
1999_02_18a
For the PM update, we updated the lead to George Clooney's Season 5 departure from NBC's ER (also, I think we erred by putting periods in the show's title, though that may have been our style at the time):
1999_02_18b
[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, February 17, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 17, 1999 -- Mortgage Rates, Pitchers Report

February 17, 1999: We led with "Hit 'Em When They're Down" for home buying thanks to low mortgage rates:
1999_02_17
We did a noon tweak to the Community column, adding AOL NetMail:
1999_02_17b
For the PM updates, we pitched the MLB pitchers reporting for Spring training:
1999_02_17c
[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, February 16, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 16, 1999 -- AIM, Hometown AOL, Community

February 16, 1999: We started out with AIM in the top spot but bumped it for Hometown AOL shortly after; the My News headline references the death of Nixon adviser John Ehrlichman:
1999_02_16
The My News headline captured the opening of the trial in the dragging death of James Byrd; we also rebranded the "Free Products" column as "Community," with a preview of a Community Directory and AIM Web Chat (as I recall, persistent AIM chat rooms accessible via URL):
1999_02_16b
Apparently, we had too many Try AOL promos in the new Community column; we moved one to the Shortcuts column:
1999_02_16c
And then the PM update with a color change:
1999_02_16d
[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, February 15, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 15, 1999 -- 2 Months to Tax Day

February 15, 1999: We led off with tax tips, along with an Oscar quiz and AIM sweeps:
1999_02_15
For the PM update, we went with Spring Break getaways, AIM sweeps, and Hometown AOL:
1999_02_15b
[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, February 14, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 14, 1999 -- Happy Valentine's Day

February 14, 1999: We brought out the 3d-heart again for the lead Valentine's Day promo, along with Daytona 500 coverage and Hometown AOL:
1999_02_14
[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, February 13, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 13, 1999 -- Last-Minute Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

February 13, 1999: Last-minute Valentine Day's ideas and gifts (which in 1999 I think just meant e-cards), along with Hometown AOL and the AIM sweeps:
1999_02_13
[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, February 12, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 12, 1999 -- Clinton Acquitted

February 12, 1999: The Senate was nice enough to acquit President Clinton early enough in the business day as not to disrupt our weekends; in fact, the vote preview version of the page only lasted for a few hours in the morning:
1999_02_12
We went up with the "It's Over: Senate acquits Clinton" lineup at around 12:42pm. The My News headline is in ALL CAPS FOR EMPHASIS; in fact, I think the My News folks even pumped up the font size before we had them take it back down to mostly normal (as I seem to have misremembered for the impeachment):
1999_02_12b
Another PM update with a photo swap:
1999_02_12c
For the PM update, we cleaned up the headline so it didn't go over the limit; along with some inconsequential promos for Valentine's Day and Hometown AOL:
1999_02_12d
[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, February 11, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 11, 1999 -- Arms of Steel, Hearts of Sugar

February 11, 1999: For the AM lineup, we led with workout tips in Health, along with spring break escapes and Hometown AOL:
1999_02_11
In the PM, we went with Valentine's Day, AIM sweeps, and more Hometown AOL:
1999_02_11b
[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, February 10, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 10, 1999 -- More Stupid AIM Sweepstakes & Valentine's Day Promos

February 10, 1999: In the AM, we had another of the same $2,000 AIM sweepstakes promo, plus Hometown AOL, and Gourmet & Grocery. In the ad block, you can see that 1-800 Flowers basically had a spot locked up for Valentine's Day:
1999_02_10
For the PM update, it was mostly the same, just moving V-Day into the lead:
1999_02_10b
[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, February 09, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 9, 1999 -- Oscar Preview, Senate Deliberates in Clinton Trial, Lycos

February 9, 1999: For the AM, we went with Gwyneth Paltrow for an Oscar night preview (on Tuesday?), Valentine's 1999, and Hometown AOL; for the PM switch, we just changed the HTML block colors.

In the My News headlines, we see two stories: The Senate began deliberating in the Clinton impeachment trial, and a merger between Home Shopping Net and Lycos. Clearly, the two stories were equally important, and had similarly lasting impact. (Also, "The new company will advertise its Web services on USA Networks’ cable TV shows, and Lycos’ Web sites will include ads for TV. USA Networks will also merge its Ticketmaster operation with Lycos.")
1999_02_09
1999_02_09b
[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, February 08, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 8, 1999 -- Tax Time and AIM Sweeps

February 8, 1999: The lead morning promo featured tax preparation help, along with Hometown AOL and Computing. In the My News headlines, we see a reference to the death of Jordan's King Hussein, who'd died shortly before.
1999_02_08
In the PM update, we switched to the AIM sweepstakes, while the My News headlines switched to King Hussein's burial and the closing arguments in the Clinton impeachment trial:
1999_02_08b
[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, February 07, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 7, 1999 -- Grant Hill and the Start of a Shortened NBA Season

February 7, 1999: The lead promo featured the Detroit Pistons' Grant Hill for the start of the lockout-shortened NBA season. (Gee, I wonder if his being a Duke star player factored at all into the photo selection. Nah.)
1999_02_07
[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, February 06, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 6, 1999 -- More Hometown AOL

February 6, 1999: By this time, I'm guessing that I too was pretty sick of that stupid purple and gold Hometown AOL promo graphic. Nevertheless, it persisted.
1999_02_06
[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, February 05, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 5, 1999 -- Mel Gibson Is Not a Blonde Woman

February 5, 1999: The lead promo, "Should You Pay to See Payback?" was for the Mel Gibson movie Payback. Because Mel Gibson is not a blonde woman, we went with a photo of co-star Maria Bello.

The other text promos were for Hometown AOL and shopping for videos (VHS, of course) and DVDs:



1999_02_05
[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, February 04, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 4, 1999 -- Sweets for Your Sweetie, Health Tips, and Double the Headlines

February 4, 1999: We continued the Valentine's Day gift promo photo from the night before, along with the $2000 AIM sweepstakes, and online car buying. We also added Valentine's 1999 to the top of the Shortcuts column:
1999_02_04
For the PM update, we switched to Health tips (with a shirtless guy for a change) and an NBA season preview.

In the My News headline area, you can now see two news headlines. I believe they went to their respective stories (instead of taking you to the main page and forcing you to hunt for what you were looking for and clicking again... believe it or not, we sometimes had to fight to be able to direct link to content, since doing so cost us a pageview).

I don't recall ever having any headline truncation issues (like a naughty word inadvertently appearing due to an unfortunate cutoff); I think it's because we had some hard headline character limits on the My News side.
1999_02_04b
[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, February 03, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 3, 1999 -- Hometown AOL and Valentine's 1999

February 3, 1999: In the morning spot, we switched to the familiar purple and gold Hometown AOL promo:
1999_02_03b
For the PM update (no headline because it was a preview), we featured Valentine's Day gifts, as well as Black History Month and Computing:
1999_02_03

[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, February 02, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 2, 1999 -- Goof Off at Work With AIM and You Could Win $2000

February 2, 1999: The top promo during business hours was an AIM promo that read, "The Boss Thinks You're Working... But you're chatting with your friends." In the pre-pre-pre-Slack days, using instant messenger chats at work still wasn't a thing -- at least, outside of AOL. The promo was a sorta reference to a 1995-ish AOL commercial (which I can't find online) that had a salaryman saying, "My boss thinks I'm working... but I'm really just goofing off!" That was a short-lived ad -- it didn't project the right brand value the leadership wanted.
1999_02_02

For the PM update, we tweaked the headline but kept everything else the same. Then, we changed it again, to tout the chance to win $2000 for registering for AIM -- in the last screenshot, we see a line of text that's not in the other shots, leading me to think that maybe it actually was an animated gif that simulated a text conversation...
1999_02_02b

1999_02_02c
[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, February 01, 2019

20 Years Ago on AOL.com: Feb. 1, 1999 -- Monica Lewinsky Testifies; Clinton's Lawyers Apologize; Design Tweaks and a Link Mish-Mosh

February 1, 1999: Monica Lewinsky testified at the Clinton impeachment trial, and the AM page led with that. (The text promos, Personal Finance and online book shopping, are insignificant in comparison.)
1999_02_01
For the PM update, we updated the top spot to read, "Clinton to Monica: I'm Sorry," though the statement was delivered by his lawyers: "On behalf of the president, we would like to tell you that we are all very sorry for what you've been through."

We also see a few design tweaks below the top promo block; first, we left-aligned the dynamic My News headline (and changed it from "Top News Now" to "My News" with a mini-icon) in preparation for doubling the number of news headlines.

Then, we moved the AOL NetFind Search box from the left column and extended it and its  yellow bar across the entire page.

We also took the center column, formerly the My News categories, and turned it into a Shortcuts column, featuring a mish-mosh of links in semi-logical groupings -- everything from travel bargains and car shopping, to TV listings and crosswords, to personal finance, research topics, shareware and computer shopping, and job listings, real estate listings, and... pet finder?

What a mess of a column: 
1999_02_01b
[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.]