AOL still exists as of 2019

That became of the internet giants of yore

Brad Chacos

Napster, Real Player and Netscape used to be present on every PC. Today, however, many no longer know these services.

What happened to the classic websites and programs that could be found on almost every PC at the turn of the millennium? Microsoft removed Clippy (the Office help tool in the form of a bouncing paper clip, called Karl Klammer in the German Office version) to the delight of many, but what happened to the RealPlayer, CompuServe and BonziBuddy? Some of these offers shut down servers forever, but others are still lingering. You can also often find traces of AOL and Yahoo. In this article, we're going to tell you what happened to many well-known software and internet veterans.


EnlargeRealPlayer: The face of cutting-edge media playback in the 1990s.

Let's turn to a pieced-together classic that is still with us. The annoying RealPlayer was playing songs on PCs around the world in the late 1990s. And mainly because, like Winamp, it was one of the few free MP3 playback tools.

So RealNetworks Media Player is still alive and well, even with mobile apps, but the company has now distanced itself from only playing music. The remodeled RealPlayer Cloud combines media playback with cloud storage, allowing you to wirelessly transfer songs and videos from device to device.


The history of RealNetwork is intertwined with that of Napster, the peer-to-peer service that started file sharing and was THE source of free music on the Internet around the year 2000.

Disgruntled musicians and their lawyers forced Napster to shut down in 2001, which was quickly followed by bankruptcy. The name Napster then changed hands frequently and, ironically enough, eventually evolved into an online music store. In 2011, Rhapsody, which had split off from RealNetworks the year before, bought the brand and put Napster in its service.

Netscape Navigator

Netscape Navigator was the window to the Internet in the childhood days of the web, long before Microsoft Internet Explorer. But as everyone knows, Microsoft's browser soon overtook Netscape Navigator and pushed it off the market - keyword: browser war.

AOL swallowed Netscape Communications for $ 4.2 billion in 1998 and kept releasing new versions of the legendary browser until it was finally discontinued in 2007. Remnants of the Netscape brand can still be found at There is also the bizarre Netscape Internet service, which in the USA provides Internet access via a dial-up connection for $ 10 a month. Today the Netscape Navigator browser is long forgotten.

And yet the browser lives on. Because shortly before the takeover by AOL, Netscape made the Navigator source code available as open source. This resulted in the Mozilla project. And finally, the free and open source Firefox browser.

Outstanding computer pioneers: 15 Unix developers


CompuServe argued with AOL and Prodigy in the 1990s about the right to use telephone lines to connect to the Internet. AOL eventually caught on and bought CompuServe around the turn of the century. AOL let its former rival continue until 2009, however. The success of broadband connections eventually ended the CompuServe Classic era.

However, similar to Netscape, this does not mean that CompuServe is history. AOL keeps the "CompuServe Interactive Services" running. Fittingly, the stunted CompuServe page has a pop-up newsbox operated by Netscape and

AltaVista and GeoCities

AltaVista and GeoCities were the same thing in AOL's heyday as Google and WordPress are today. At least before the two companies were bought by Yahoo for a lot of money. However, all the money didn't save the two websites. Yahoo shut down GeoCities in 2009, while AltaVista lasted until July 2013.

AltaVista's site redirects to Yahoo search. On “One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op” you will find some random screenshots from Geocities pages.


BonziBuddy was actually nothing more than a purple, nudge-bump, joking gorilla, but that was exactly what made the computer seem magical at the time.