In times gone by AOL was often seen as a bit of a joke by the technically literate (or even by a basically competent computer user).
The sort of person who used AOL would be seen as the sort of person who thought the CD draw on their computer was a cup holder, or get confused when they couldn’t find the ‘any’ key when told to ‘press any key’.
Through some clever (really annoying?) marketing at one time AOL was a very dominant force in the on-line information supply system, first in providing their own “walled garden” community, then as an internet connection provider. However you had to use their software whose mail system had compatibility problems with everyone else’s, and there was a disastrous merger with Time Warner at the turn of the millennium. At the time of the merger AOL was valued at over $260 billion, however when they parted company in 2009 the newly de-merged AOL was valued at $2.5 billion. Quite a fall.
However since the de-merger AOL seems to be picking themselves up. They bought The Huffington Post and TechCrunch and seem to be making a success of them, and for the first time in 8 years they’ve just reported a growth in revenue (over the last quarter of last year).
Will be curious to see how they develop over the next year or so.