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Bitcoin's AOL Moment

Blockchain’s AOL Moment

Most individuals over the age of 30 witnessed one of the most profound changes in the history of mankind: ubiquitous adoption of the internet. The internet has fundamentally changed the ways that humans interact, communicate, and work. It has broken down cultural barriers and eliminated geographic friction with instantaneous transfer of information around the world. The ability to freely communicate has enhanced human rights, helped maintain democratic societies, and created incalculable value through increased efficiency and creation of new businesses. Although the internet has seemingly taken over and enhanced almost every aspect of our lives, the initial adoption of this ground-breaking technology was very slow.

HyTelNet circa 1993

In 1993, the HyTelNet command line tool (pictured above) was the most popular way for the average person to connect to the internet. This tool represents a state-of-the-art user experience after 24 years of continuous development of the internet, which traces its roots back to the Arpanet of 1969. Because the HyTelNet client presented a technological challenge to the average user, the early internet had relatively few users, and only 130 websites in 1993.

Between 1993 and 1995 a number of enabling technologies became available including faster modems (14.4k) and graphics-based operating systems such as Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. These tools enabled the development of a user interface and user experience that was much more palatable for the average person, which helped enable widespread adoption.

AOL circa 1995

At this point, America Online (AOL) did something that was likely one of the greatest marketing strategies of all time, positioning AOL to be a dominant force in the internet service provider (ISP) race. AOL started producing and mailing, to literally everyone, the AOL installation CD. It is estimated that at one point, half of all CDs produced on the planet bore the AOL...

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