Flashback FridayIt seems so innocent. Call in for a little floppy disk with software that would give you 10 hours of online access. Little did anyone know it would be the harbinger of an endless deluge of those disks and an ever growing number of free hours.

Meet America Online.

Yes, before it was “AOL,” and before it started putting a disc in every magazine ever, America Online would even run lengthy television commercials … with creepy references to “kayaking buddies” that almost comes off like code for something else.

Possibly one of the funniest aspects of this commercial is how fast it shows all of the different sections loading. This is well before the days of cable Internet being readily available. From my time as an AOL member back in the day, believe me, it never loaded that fast.

While we may laugh at AOL these days, you do have to give it a bit of credit for helping popularize the Internet in the home. And, while I doubt America Online founder Steve Case would agree, you also have to thank him for a service that was so mediocre that it made people want more from the online services that they paid for.

So, thanks America Online for being a pain to use and driving us to bigger and better things.

Oh, and for giving us, “a/s/l?”! Where would we be without it?

Now, has anyone ever been as excited as this guy about kayaking buddies?