End of an era
AOL is shutting down its free LISTSERV-based mailing-list hosting operations.
In an email to list administrators, the troubled ISP said that if lists are still actively used they will have to find another supplier. AOL had first planned to shutter the service on Nov. 1, but pushed back the date by a month. For those still actively running AOL mailing lists, mailing-list service provider L-Soft is offering to act as a host, though at a nominal cost (starting at US$8 per month).
The service was at its most important in the late 1990s when AOL was the third-largest provider of mailing lists. It served nearly a million users and used the most widely used mailing-list management software, LISTSERV, created by Paris engineering student Eric Thomas in 1986.
Along with IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and USENET newsgroups, mailing lists were the first stabs at social notworking. The mailing list sent out alerts or notifications by email and helped connect people in remote locations who bonded over a common topic.
The AOL LISTSERV currently hosts about 640 mailing lists. Some lists are still active; others aren't.