AOL Hometown
Defunct31 October 2008; 15 years ago (2008-10-31)[1]
OwnerAOL (Verizon Media)

AOL Hometown was a web hosting service offered by AOL. It offered 12 megabytes of server space for AOL subscribers to publish their own websites, and included a 10-step form-driven page creator called 1-2-3 Publish[2][3] and a WYSIWYG online website builder called Easy Designer,[4] neither of which required knowledge of HTML (AOLpress had been AOL's website builder before the introduction of AOL Hometown). In 2001, AOL Hometown estimatedly had 11 million websites[5] and a new website was added to it every eight seconds.[6] By 2002, AOL Hometown had grown to 14 million websites.[7] It was shut down on 31 October 2008.[1]

Its shutdown led to the creation of Archive Team by Jason Scott[8][9][10] who was angered by the shutdown. Then it, with the help of the Internet Archive and other activist websites, saved as much of GeoCities as possible when it became the next "critical part of online history"[8] and "important outlet for personal expression on the Web"[11] to be shut down with short notice in October 2009.


Before Hometown, AOL made 2 megs of webspace available for each user name, and had tools "Personal Publisher II" and "AOLPress".[12][13] These webpages were then accessed in the or domains.[14][15] Personal Publisher let users create webpages without knowing HTML;[16] AOL discontinued Personal Publisher circa 2000.[17] AOL members could also use the "MyPlace" keyword to upload HTML files they created themselves.[18][19]

Hometown start date

The site initially launched as "Hometown AOL"[20] in October, 1998. Within the first year, in 1999, the site was redesigned and rebranded as "AOL Hometown" to align the name with the rest of the AOL properties' names (AOL + property name).[citation needed]

Official online information as to when AOL Hometown started out is scarce. gives a registration date of "before Aug-1996" for the domain of, though that probably relates to the basic AOL domain itself as the "domain name" in the registration is given as "".[21] First mention of AOL Hometown in a Google Scholar publication dates from 2000, which is Quick Guide to You'Ve Got Pictures, Aol Exclusive Version by D. Peal.[22] Prior to that, AOL Hometown was mentioned in a Deseret News article on September 30, 1999.[23]

Two tools for AOL Hometown on the internet suggest a start date of 1999 or before. The copyright notice to the AOL Hometown StatCounter reads "Copyright 1999-2011".[24] The imprint to the download page of James S. Huggins's AOL Hometown easyDesigner says that it was "created: before Thu, 01.Nov.2001", and its copyright notice reads "© 1997-2011"[25]

Legacy sites

Over the time of its existence, AOL Hometown incorporated websites of formerly independent services acquired by or merged with AOL,[8] including, but not limited to,[23], Netscape,[23] CompuServe,[26] eAccess[27][28] AcmeCity[29] and others.

Thus, it contained an unknown number of websites that had been online for longer than the existence of AOL Hometown itself. On the German forum, one poster complained in 2008 that with the shutdown of AOL Hometown, AOL had deleted his website that had remained on the internet "for more than 17 years" (since at least 1991).[30]

See also


  1. ^ a b Posted on Sep 30th 2008 10:06AM by Kelly Wilson. "We're Closing Our Doors - People Connection Blog: AIM Community Network". Archived from the original on 2008-11-02. Retrieved 2020-05-20.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Hogan, Lynn (1995). Creating a Web Page Using AOL Hometown, Appendix C to the online book Practical Computing, published on Pearson Education
  3. ^ Internet Baby Steps - Lesson 19: Creating a Simple AOL Home Page Archived 2012-03-31 at the Wayback Machine, Alexander Magazine, 2001
  4. ^ Willett, Edward (2000). Your Official America Online Guide to Creating Cool Web Pages, 2nd Edition
  5. ^ Schau, Hope Jensen; Gilly, Mary C. (2003). We are what we post? Self-presentation in personal web space, Journal of Consumer Research, December 1, 2003
  6. ^ Musgrove, Mike (2001). Free, easy site-hosting services tap into the urge to post Archived 2011-10-04 at the Wayback Machine, The Washington Post, January 28, 2001
  7. ^ Hu, Jim (2002). AOL home page glitches irk users, CNET News, February 1, 2002
  8. ^ a b c Scott, Jason (2008). Eviction, or the Coming Datapocalypse, December 21st, 2008
  9. ^ Scott, Jason (2009). Datapocalypso!, January 5th, 2009
  10. ^ Scott, Jason (2009). STAND BACK, WE’RE ARCHIVISTS, January 9th, 2009
  11. ^ Internet Archive (2009).GeoCities Special Collection 2009: Saving a Historical Record of GeoCities
  12. ^ "A Web Site is Not So Terribly Hard to Weave". Los Angeles Times. 31 March 1997.
  13. ^ "PC Mag - Google Books". 9 September 1997. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  14. ^ "Internet Q&A". 1996-06-07. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  15. ^ "Chapter 19 - Getting Your Web Words Online with America Online". Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  16. ^ Einstein, David (1998-01-20). "Web Site Creation Is Free, Easy". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  17. ^ "Unhappy AOL Campers - The New York Times". The New York Times. 2000-04-13. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  18. ^ Maplin Electronics 1996 [dead link]
  19. ^ "PC Mag". 23 April 1996.
  20. ^ "PC Mag - Google Books". 1999-04-06. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  21. ^ "Website". Retrieved August 21, 2011.[dead link]
  22. ^ Google Scholar search result for "AOL Hometown"
  23. ^ a b c Nii, Jenifer K. (1999). Family history Web site joins AOL, Deseret News, September 30, 1999
  24. ^ StatCounter provides free customisable hit counters, visitor tracking and website stats for AOL Hometown Archived June 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Huggins, James S. (1997?). Using AOL Hometown easyDesigner
  26. ^ "AOL-CompuServe deal cleared". CNET. 1997-11-10. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  27. ^ AOL Japan to transfer Net business to eAccess, The Japan Times, May 18, 2004,
  28. ^ Matsuoka, Ken (2008). AOL Announcement: "AOL Hometown/FTP is closing 31st October 2008", 5 December 2008
  29. ^ AcmeCity and AOL Hometown Collaboration, 2001
  30. ^ "Immerhin hat AOL im Gegensatz zu manchen anderen Providern oder Gratisangeboten immerhin eine 'Haltbarkeit' von über 17 Jahren gehabt." ("Different from what other providers or free services would have given me, AOL gave my site a 'durability' of more than 17 years.") Chactory, thread Google warnt vor der gesamten AOL-Domain[permanent dead link] ("Google advises against all AOL domains"), 2 October 2008