In 1995, in the summer before I moved to the UK, I was living just outside the Washington D.C. Beltway, not far away from the world headquarters of America Online. In those days, AOL ruled the roost; in the States at least, they dominated the commercial world wide web home market, and had a pretty solid stake in the business ISP world too.

It was a pretty formative time in the mainstream use of the Web, an exciting time to surf: content was being uploaded onto proto-websites at an impossible rate. But impressively, less than a decade after the hypertext prototcol was knocked together, it was becoming an indispensable part of our lives.

And then one day it broke.

I remember it perfectly; people were freaking out, businesses were panicking, pulling out their old fax machines and trying to remember how they worked. Commerce slowed down and communication chugged. It had only been a short while that AOL had worked its way into the fabric of our lives, but its absence was utterly devastating.

Oh how exciting.

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