A is for AOL, whose browser spread like fire
Its dial-up access made us mad; its browser
stoked our ire
It's easy to forget today, but in 1995 Web browsing was far from the dominant online experience. People used CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online, with their proprietary interfaces and closed-off forums, and got charged by the minute for the privilege.
Then AOL opened access to Usenet and then to the Web at large. Sure, its built-in browser (shown here in 1999) handled HTML features clumsily (or not at all), but AOL's fierce marketing and new flat monthly fee cemented its popularity.
It was a victim of its own success, with busy lines, dropped connections and a backlash against all the AOL newbies cluttering up the Web. But thousands of AOL-ers just stuck with what they knew -- until something better came along.