As long-time readers know, I got heavily involved in the online world beginning in October of 1989, when I received a sign-up floppy from America Online. Up till then, I tapped into a CompuServe membership at the office, but it was expensive, costing over $10 per hour during peak terms, and the boss strongly recommended that I only use it when necessary, which wasn’t very often. If you became an online junkie, you could quickly squander a hefty portion of your pay check navigating this text-based online service.
AOL’s ace-in-the-hole was a Mac-like graphical interface, and a $4 per hour price structure (the flat monthly rate came along some years later). Well, I still spent more time than I should, but when I began to hang out in the Mac user forums, one of the service’s in-house producers took pity on me and gave me batches of free time.
Eventually I became a forum helper with a free account. When I was elevated to the post of forum leader, I even received a paycheck. Add to that books on AOL and other topics, plus writing gigs with Macworld and other publications, and the 1990s were rather lucrative for me until the cutbacks began.