Take a modem squealin’ stroll down online memory lane.

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The Golden Age of America Online

If you owned a computer with a modem in the 1990s, the odds are high that you at least dabbled in what was once America’s largest online service: America Online. I myself was not a long-term AOL member beyond free trial periods—I preferred CompuServe—but there is no ignoring the cultural juggernaut that was AOL in the Clinton era.

I thought it would be a fun blast from the past for those who lived through this period to see what AOL looked like during its “Golden Era”—which I am roughly defining to be the early-mid 1990s just before AOL became a glorified ISP. This is an age where online data was scarce and precious: AOL charged $9.95 a month for 5 hours of access and $2.95 an hour after that.

While looking through my records, I found that I only have a couple vintage AOL screenshots. Lucky for us, back in 2003, computer enthusiast Mike Richardson captured a host of vintage AOL screenshots of vintage 1995-era AOL 2.5 pages while they were still available. Thanks to Richardson’s foresight, we can step in a computer time machine and begin our mini-tour.