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25 years of AOL: A timeline

Marking its silver anniversary, the company looks to reclaim its standing among Internet giants.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010; 7:08 PM

1985: Quantum Computer Services Inc., which later becomes America Online Inc. launches its first online service, Q-Link, on the Commodore 64.

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1989: Instant Messenger and the greeting "Welcome! You've got mail" debut.

1991: Quantum is renamed America Online Inc. AOL 1.0 for DOS, a computer operating system, ships.

1992: America Online goes public on Nasdaq Stock Market at initial price of $11.50.

1993: Disk mailings begin.

1994: The first advertisers appear on AOL, whose services reach 1 million members.

1995: AOL.com debuts.

1996: AOL reaches five million members and introduces flat-rate pricing, the Buddy List and Running Man.

1997: AIM 1.0 debuts.

1998: Acquires CompuServe and ICQ.

1999: Acquires Moviefone and Netscape.

December 1999: AOL stock surpasses $90, its highest to date.

2000: AOL and Time Warner announce merger agreement. AOL acquires MapQuest.

December 2001: AOL Time Warner's chief executive, Gerald M. Levin, announces resignation.

July 2002: The Washington Post reports on unconventional advertising deals before and after the merger. The day after the report, AOL Time Warner's chief operating officer, Robert W. Pittman, resigns. AOL service exceeds 35 million members. The Securities and Exchange Commission opens an investigation into AOL Time Warner for several unorthodox advertising deals.

August 2002: The Justice Department announces a criminal probe of AOL Time Warner.

October 2002: AOL Time Warner announces plans to revise financial results after finding it improperly inflated $190 million in advertising deals.

December 2002: Revises strategy for online unit and says ad sales might not rebound until 2004.

Jan. 10, 2003: AOL Time Warner closes at about $15 a share.

Jan. 12, 2003: Steve Case announces resignation as chairman.

2004: Acquires Advertising.com

2005: Becomes the first Internet company to win an Emmy.

2006: Begins offering its e-mail, software, content and most of its services free to Web users.

2007: AOL launches more than a dozen niche content sites. The company lays off 2,000 of its worldwide workforce of 10,000.

2008: Launches AIM for the iPhone.

2009: Tim Armstrong is hired at AOL, which surpasses 80 content sites. Time Warner is spun off, making AOL an independent company. AOL lays off 700 employees.

2010: Armstrong named chairman and CEO of AOL.

SOURCES: http://corp.aol.com, staff reports


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