Trivia

Hard

Which Tech Company Once Consumed 100% Of The World’s CD Production Capabilities?

Microsoft
Apple
Sony
America Online
AOL's Version 7.0 Platinum Premier CD.
America Online (AOL)

Answer: America Online

During the 1990s, America Online sign-up discs were everywhere. The ubiquitous little discs filled up our mailboxes, fell out of magazines, and were piled up at checkout lines everywhere from computer stores to corner stores. It would be easy to believe that AOL had a choke hold on the CD production facilities of the world in order to keep up with their commitment to blanketing the world with their promotional discs, and as it turns out, that’s just what they had done.

For a brief period of time in the late 1990s, AOL was, in fact, consuming 100 percent of the world’s CD production capacity. In a question and answer session on the website Quora, several past and present AOL employees weighed in on the situation. Jan Brandt, former Chief Marketing Officer of AOL highlighted the sheer volume of AOL’s mass distribution campaign:

At one point, 50 percent of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo on it. We were logging in new subscribers at the rate of one every six seconds.

Reggie Fairchild, Product Manager for AOL 4.0, chimed in to talk about just how many discs they were producing:

When we launched AOL 4.0 in 1998, AOL used ALL of the world-wide CD production for several weeks. Think of that. Not a single music CD or Microsoft CD was produced during those weeks. I still remember hand delivering the Golden Master to Lisa in Marketing.

When people complained about receiving AOL CDs even though they already had an account, Steve Case, then the CEO of AOL, would ask, “Don’t you have a friend you could give it to?”

It is no wonder that it appeared as if there was a never-ending supply of AOL sign-up discs. With the full production capacity of the world’s CD facilities behind them for a brief period of time, AOL was able to crank out more discs than any other internet service provider, software company, or record company on Earth.

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