AOL, one of the most successful early Internet service providers, started life in 1983 as a company called Control Video Corporation selling downloadable games for the Atari 2600; this became Quantum Computer Services offering online services for the Commodore 64, then Apple, then PC; in 1989 it became known as AOL.

Presumably there was some point at which it started offering email to other customers of the same company (though this might be fuzzy depending on exactly what counts as email).

Presumably there was some later point at which it started offering email to customers of other companies, i.e. Internet email; this seems likely to be more sharply defined.

When did AOL start offering Internet email?


1 Answer 1


The AOL “international e-mail gateway” was announced on June 3, 1992, and seemingly available there and then:

VIENNA, Va., June 3 (1992) /PRNewswire/ — America Online subscribers can now communicate with millions of people throughout the world by using an electronic mail gateway that connects to a wide variety of commercial and educational e-mail systems. America Online subscribers are not charged extra for use of this gateway.

The new e-mail gateway allows America Online subscribers to easily send mail and to receive mail from users of CompuServe, MCI Mail, AT&T Mail, AppleLink, Sprint Mail and other Internet-connected systems, without requiring a separate account on those services.

From then on, AOL users could send and receive Internet email.

Other Internet-based features were added progressively, through the “Internet Center”: Usenet newsgroups in 1993 (which, probably in combination with price reductions, massive marketing campaigns, and the availability of a Windows client, would lead to Eternal September), WAIS and Gopher in 1994, and the web in 1995.

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