The history of AOL as told through New York Times crossword clues

December 5, 2012
December 5, 2012
Tap image to zoom
105-Across: Co. that owns Moviefone

There are many ways to tell the story of AOL and its numerous reinventions, so here’s just one: The New York Times Crossword. With just a few letters, most of which are vowels, AOL is a common crutch of cruciverbalists. (See also: APE, EPEE, and BRIO.)

Below, I’ve compiled nearly every appearance of AOL in the Times crossword from 1997 to 2011, taking the company on a journey from “Prodigy competitor” (Jan. 14, 1997) to “Netcom competitor” (Mar. 29, 1998) to “Juno rival” (Apr. 6, 2003) to “Gmail alternative” (June 5, 2007) to “Yahoo! competitor” (May 10, 2010)—oh, and finally, “Huffington Post buyer” (Apr. 17, 2011) and “Company with Patch Media” (Oct. 9, 2011). There are many other gems in between.

The data were compiled from an app for searching Times crossword clues, which was built by Quartz product engineering director Michael Donohoe.

1997

Jan. 14, 1997: Prodigy competitor, for short
Oct. 4, 1997: Cyberspace abbr.

1998

Mar. 29, 1998: Netcom competitor
Jun. 17, 1998: Chat room inits.
Oct. 4, 1998: Part of some E-mail addresses

1999

Apr. 11, 1999: “You’ve got mail” co.
Aug. 3, 1999: Prodigy alternative, for short
Sept. 2, 1999: “You’ve got mail” co.

2000

Apr. 13, 2000: Big letters in cyberspace
Sept. 13, 2000: Yahoo! competitor
Dec. 14, 2000: Company founded by Steve Case

2001

Jan. 16, 2001: Part of many e-mail addresses
Apr. 5, 2001: Company in a 2000 merger
Aug. 31, 2001: Chatroom offerer
Sept. 2, 2001: Netscape purchaser
Sept. 3, 2001: CompuServe is part of it
Sept. 23, 2001: Co. in a 2001 merger
Sept. 25, 2001: Popular I.S.P.
Nov. 4, 2001: Part of many e-mail addresses
Nov. 23, 2001: Part of some e-mail addresses

2002

Feb. 2, 2002: Earthlink competitor
Feb. 26, 2002: It merged with Time Warner
Mar. 3, 2002: Earthlink competitor
May 9, 2002: Popular ISP
Jun. 13, 2002: Co. in a big 2001 merger
Aug. 2, 2002: Big inits. on the Net
Dec. 13, 2002: One way to the WWW

2003

Jan. 18, 2003: Trio after @, perhaps
Feb. 4, 2003: “You’ve got mail” co.
Apr. 6, 2003: Juno rival
May 4, 2003: Partner in a big 2001 merger
May 29, 2003: Media inits. since 1989
Jul. 7, 2003: “You’ve got mail” co.
Oct. 21, 2003: Earthlink competitor

2004

Mar. 22, 2004: Co. that merged with Time Warner
Jul. 18, 2004: MSN competitor
Aug. 19, 2004: Big name in ISP’s
Sept. 29, 2004: Earthlink alternative
Nov. 15, 2004: Netscape’s owner

2005

Jan. 4, 2005: “You’ve got mail” co.
Feb. 13, 2005: MSN competitor
Feb. 22, 2005: Time Warner merger partner
Apr. 1, 2005: Modern-day corp. giant with a 1992 I.P.O.
May 2, 2005: Yahoo! competitor
May 11, 2005: MSN competitor
Aug. 2, 2005: Co. with a triangular logo
Aug. 7, 2005: Big mail deliverer
Sept. 28, 2005: One way to the www
Oct. 26, 2005: Co. that offers I.M.’s

2007

Feb. 7, 2007: Popular I.S.P.
May. 25, 2007: Part of AIM
June 5, 2007: Gmail alternative
July 13, 2007: Popular ISP
Aug. 6, 2007: Yahoo! competitor
Oct. 27, 2007: Name for Quantum Computer Services since ’89
Dec. 16, 2007: I.S.P. of note

2008

Jan. 31, 2008: Co. with a triangular logo
Apr. 20, 2008: Popular portal
June 15, 2008: MSN rival
July 2, 2008: Alternative to Gmail
Aug. 26, 2008: Co. in a 2001 merger with Time Warner
Oct. 11, 2008: Choice for chat
Dec. 17, 2008: “You’ve got mail” co.

2009

Feb. 8, 2009: Co. with a triangular logo
Feb. 12, 2009: Comcast alternative
May 20, 2009: Netscape acquirer
Aug. 27, 2009: Popular ISP
Nov. 9, 2009: I.M. provider

2010

Feb. 13, 2010: Co. split off from Time Warner in 2009
Apr. 21, 2010: Pioneer in instant messaging
May 10, 2010: Yahoo! competitor
May 12, 2010: Gmail alternative
July 29, 2010: Internet giant
Aug. 11, 2010: Yahoo! competitor
Aug. 12, 2010: Quantum Computer Services, today
Dec. 4, 2010: Co. with many keywords
Dec. 10, 2010: Part of AIM
Dec. 25, 2010: Company with an I.P.O. in both 1992 and 2009

2011

Jan. 2, 2011: Instant messaging pioneer
Mar. 9, 2011: Popular I.S.P.
Apr. 17, 2011: Huffington Post buyer in 2011
June 14, 2011: Company in a 2011 merger with the Huffington Post
June 20, 2011: Yahoo! alternative
July 5, 2011: “You’ve got mail” co.
Aug. 15, 2011: Time Warner spinoff of ’09
Oct. 9, 2011: Company with Patch Media
Oct. 16, 2011: Co. that owns Moviefone
Dec. 5, 2011: “You’ve got mail” co.

Here’s a Google spreadsheet with all of the raw data, including the day of the week that each clue ran, so you can see how difficult it was intended to be. (Clues in the Times crossword get progressively harder from Monday to Saturday.)

Top News

Powered by WordPress.com VIP
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 24,440 other followers