The ‘war for the web’: Kara Swisher in 1998

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Kara Swisher in 2006
(Photo: Dave Sifry)
If you’re of a certain age (or older), you’ll recall hardly a week passed in the 1990s without the mail bringing at least one America Online CD (or, before that, floppy disk) encouraging you to “Sign on today!”

By one estimate, AOL spent more than $300 million on those discs, in essence jumpstarting the online economy.

By 1998, AOL—once considered a corporate cockroach, a digital Dracula that refused to die— had become one of the hottest companies in the world, and then-Wall Street Journal reporter Kara Swisher‘s unprecedented access to the company’s inner workings yielded her book How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads, and Made Millions in the War for the Web.

Listening to her interview with me in July of that year—conducted, as we now know, less than two months before the founding of Google—is like opening a time capsule from the dawn of the consumer internet age.

How many extinct tech titans do you count?

Want more historic interviews? How about these with astrophysicist Carl Sagan, astronaut Jim Lovell and “Voice of Apollo” Douglas Ward?
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