AOL used to be king of the dial-up hill. At its peak, over 26.7 million households accessed the Internet via AOL, a figure that no American ISP has ever surpassed. That success came at a cost, though: those CDs (and floppy disks!) that arrived in your letterbox, often on a weekly basis, cost AOL over $300 million.
The data comes from Quora, a service that is fast becoming the go-to place for juicy, 'insider' information. Someone asked about AOL's distribution costs, and in mere moments, both the CEO-at-the-time, Steve Case, and the former Chief Marketing Officer, Jan Brandt, had chimed in with authoritative responses. Case recalls, that in the hay day of the mid-1990s, AOL was quite content to spend $35 on obtaining a new subscriber. Brandt, responding a little bit later, provided a total cost of "over $300 million," for the distribution of the CDs. She went on to provide a shocking statistic: "At one point, 50% of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it." Shocking, but... sadly rather believable.