Internet Underground

Got creative uses for those Pesky Online Disks?

Byte magazine recently became the third magazine to jump on the bandwagon and run a story about alternate uses for an AOL free-trial floppy disk.

Byte's Top 10 Users for Free AOL Disks

10. Bookmark in Sex for Dummies
9. Back up that XT 10-MB drive
8. Include in next chain letter
7. Keep shirt pocket flat when ironing
6. Scrape gum off sneaker
5. A stack of five makes a great doorstop
4. Bathtub plug
3. Wedge legs on wobbly tables
2. Jimmy doors open without damaging credit cards
1. Coaster

Internet Underground's May cover dramatizes the free-trial floppy disk glut. The magazine solicits reader suggestions in a contest for alternate uses of the omnipresent disks.

Ironically, Boardwatch magazine ran an identical contest in the second half of a monthly column last winter. A San Francisco Chronicle columnist reported that AOL is the world's second largest consumer of floppy disks, behind only Microsoft, and an industry trade publication reported that AOL is spending $93.00 in marketing for each member added.

To conceal this aggressive marketing, AOL has been telling the public the amount spent per subscriber is half that amount. AOL's free-trial disk culture fueled the growth of its hacker subpopulation. A contributing factor: AOL chose not to verify the authenticity of credit card numbers input to activate free-trial accounts on their system until September of 1995. This enabled a population of "disk dancers" to network at AOL's expense, swapping tips in AOL's hacker chat rooms, which ultimately led to the successful heist of the CEO's e-mail.

Steve Case on hackers
Hacker War essay

62 more uses for AOL disks
Floppy disk prank
Free-trial disks: the downside
101 Uses for an AOL disk
Little Kimberly Anne
Graphic art using AOL CD
AOL disk chart
Death of an AOL disk
More uses for disks
Reader comments on disks

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