Richard Bucker

In the beginning there was the BSS then AOL

Posted at — Jul 2, 2012

There are a number of revisionist and non-revisionist histories for the dawn of the internet age. I suppose it depends on what or where the historian’s vantage point was at the time. For me, I went from CB radio, to BBS, to AOL. And I was grateful for it. The dial-tone that is.Now over the last 10 or 15 years things started to shift. They went from just a handful of domains, to a ICANN land rush, million dollar domain name sales, domain name lawsuits, and now to TLD expansion and more of the same.At the same time AOL expands and contracts. For one really short moment AOL was the internet-lite for the rest of us. From a technology perspective they nailed it. Email, integrated address books, graphics, search, keywords (pre Google Adwords), over the air compression(pre Opera Browser), gateway to compuserve, national and international service. And the most important fact that we should not and cannot ignore. AOL was the cloud before there was a cloud.Now history is repeating itself again. The monolith that was AOL is now being repeated in Google, Amazon, and many other internet service providers. AOL’s user base is falling as they struggle to reinvent themselves. AOL recently announced the end of life for AIM which was the defacto instant messenger for a huge population of tech savvy and neophyte users. AOL is not my favorite platform, however, between “AOL scale” and it’s user base there has to be an acquisition opportunity for a tech company like Google instead of one failed media company after another.