Back then it was called Apple Link, a project commissioned by Apple Computer and a company called Quantum Computer Services to connect Apple II and Macintosh computers.
The beta test was dubbed “Samuel” and for Schober, a teenage fan of BBSes (bulletin board systems), it was an intriguing opportunity.
Windows 3.1 was released, making personal computers both more affordable and easier to use.
And, despite our memories of the slow-dialing modems of the ’90s, connecting to the World Wide Web was faster than ever at the time.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like made gaming in chat rooms seem antiquated.
There were, in short, a lot more options for people who wanted to interact online.
(MORE: AOL’s Thoroughly Modern AIM) Then in the 2000s, the rise of DSL and cable modems made paying AOL a monthly fee for Internet access seem increasingly unnecessary.
Napster Founders Launch Airtime Video Chat) So far, Airtime hasn’t exactly been a hit.The late ’90s, according to Schober, was when chat rooms hit their peak.Just how powerful was America Online during this time? This is the era that many people, myself included, remember most vividly.“In the ‘80s, if you had a 2400 baud modem you were pretty hot stuff,” says Schober. People talk about their cellphones being slow now; a slow cellphone might be 256k or 512k, so if you think about something being 100 times slower than that, it’s ridiculous.So you started getting to the 9600 and 14,400 baud modems that made the speeds a little more comfortable.” Participation in chat rooms started to snowball; as more people used them, the variety of chat rooms increased, attracting even more people.
Reggie Fairchild, product manager for AOL 4.0, shared this little story on Quora: It worked. As a gawky kid entering high school, chat rooms were a haven from the awkwardness of real human interaction.