In a way the news that AT&T plans to build out its media empire with the acquisition of Time Warner takes me back, way back. So let me explain why.
In the 1990s, I received a paycheck from AOL as a forum leader. It was roughly the equivalent of running a message board, but it was done under the aegis of what became, for a while, the world’s largest Internet service. It gifted me a set of arcane online “board tools” that allowed me to operate the forums, moderate member posts, and, at times, to delete or edit the ones that violated a very tightly written Terms of Service.
That job ended in the late 1990s, as AOL sought a wider net that included giving up on many of the personal features that originated on the service in 1989, when it debuted as America Online. In those days, tens of millions of signup floppies were distributed, and it was primarily a Mac service. Windows support came later. But since the $4 hourly rate was a fraction of that of the market leader at the time, CompuServe, I dutifully signed up.