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Build-A-Story: The rise and fall of AOL email

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Next week, capping a disastrous merger with Time Warner, AOL will spin itself off and become independent again. AOL was an innovator online in so many ways -- from instant messaging to email to chat boards. But ultimately, other players came in and copied--and often improved--what AOL had created. In no area is this more true than email. Who can forget that "You've got mail!" greeting -- so exciting to get an email! Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan even made a movie inspired by it.

Then Hotmail popped up. And Yahoo mail. And Gmail. Now, AOL email, for many people, is the account they no longer check.

AOL is rebuilding itself as a content provider, going after newspapers and web sites with highly focused portals on sports, politics, gossip, gadgets and even sneakers. We're telling the story of the rise and fall and perhaps rise again of AOL through the prism of its successes and failures in email.

We'd love to speak with former AOLers who helped launch the company's email. And we'd very much like to speak with former AOL mail users who have abandoned their aol.com email addresses in favor of Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. What are your memories of AOL email? Post comments below, and email reporter Michael Rosenwald

By Michael S. Rosenwald  | December 3, 2009; 10:06 PM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  
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