As of last week, Microsoft has migrated all Hotmail accounts to their new Outlook.com platform, ending a run that has lasted nearly 16 years. It was a classic. Yes, it was abandoned by most years ago. Sure, when the box wasn't filled with spam, it was filled with semi-lurid requests from porn sites and people wanting to "chat." But it was cool...at least for a while. I mean, it had HOT in the name, which was a big thing in the '90s.
To commemorate the death of what feels like an old friend, I've rounded up five classic e-mail addresses for a tech reunion of sorts. See if you remember these.
It's still going strong thanks to Google's seemingly infinite number of modifications and the fact that it is free. It was one of the hottest invites you could get online back in 2004 when it launched. It has become the default simple address for individuals, and now even many businesses use it instead of Microsoft. And Gmail turns ten next year. Our baby is all grown up!
The loser in the America Online vs. Prodigy battle, this online service was part Internet service provider, part social network. It got its start back in 1984, when most of you were just gleams in your parents' eyes. Having a Prodigy e-mail address was sort of lame, even back then, particularly after AOL came online, but it had that distinctive .net well before anyone else embraced anything other than dot-com. Eventually, a portion of the company was bought by AT&T, but the Internet service provider portion is still going strong in Mexico. Maybe you can still get an address after all.
CompuServe was kind of like the nerd version of America Online. For those brave souls who wanted to access the World Wide Web when almost nothing existed on it outside of Star Trek episode synopsis Web sites (back then they called them Web pages), CompuServe was the tool of choice and a CompuServe e-mail was a bit of a nerd badge of honor, mainly because it was the very first Internet service provider. The original e-mail addresses were account numbers, but members could use personal names as aliases. Years later, it was converted from compuserve.com to the banal cs.com.
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This list would be incomplete without a mention of the service we are eulogizing. Not only was it a cool-sounding name at the time, but it was one of the first e-mail-only services offered for free. As it grew, it began to offer alternate domains like live.com, msn.com and, eventually, outlook.com. Sorry to see the old girl go.
America Online was an absolute game changer. Like Facebook, it created an easy-to-use interface that pissed off geeks but thrilled everyday folks, many of whom were getting computers in the home for the very first time. Millions signed up and good e-mail aliases were hard to come by. Often, you would be relegated to jeff4376 or worse, so people were forced to come up with unique nicknames, which helped to explode the use of the online moniker so common today. While it wasn't cool among nerds, it was THE service to use throughout much of the '90s and continues to be used today, surprisingly.