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Now primarily a digital media company, AOL — it owns about them: the company refused to make anyone available for this story. But when she has about an hour, she’ll log on to chat.She’s used chatrooms for the past 16 years, ever since her kids introduced her to AOL.
It’s incredibly difficult to even use the chatrooms, because you need AOL Desktop, a free program that when downloaded, feels like a glimpse back into the days of dial-up. And, just like in the 1990s, people looking for sex. She’s 72, and in her free time, she likes making miniature scenes and working in her garden.
I just liked engaging people with my words and relationships.”Weger made many friends from these chatrooms, some of whom she has met and still keeps in touch with today.
AOL was her first introduction to the internet, and on chatrooms, she spoke to a computer programmer for the first time. In exchange for being in the chatroom for certain hours and moderating, AOL would grant her free hours.
A press release from 1997 promotes a calendar of events that included an online chat with each of the Spice Girls and a downloadable audio greeting from Oprah Winfrey (in honor of Mother’s Day).
Others weren’t so impressed: “Any performance skills you have go out the window,” complained comedian Jay Leno in a 1995 Now, some twenty years later, the once-vibrant chatroom communities of AOL have nearly disappeared, but they are still there … About 1,500 people can be counted in all of AOL’s public chatrooms today, a number that in the ‘90s wouldn’t have even matched a large “auditorium”-style room where celebrities would hold court.
That was the 1990s, and Riccardi was into grunge and metal music, video games, and computers.