TIME politics

How a Scandal Made Dennis Hastert the Speaker of the House

US Representative Dennis Hastert (C), R-IL, speaks
Stephen Jaffe—AFP/Getty Images Representative Dennis Hastert (C), R-IL, speaks to the media after receiving the nomination for Speaker of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in January of 1999

The politician now faces charges for money misconduct

Prosecutors announced on Thursday that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was charged with crimes related to bank-transaction reporting and with lying to the FBI. It’s an ignominious turn in the politician’s story, but not his first brush with scandal.

In fact, it was a scandal—one of a very different sort, involving a different person, but a scandal nonetheless—that got him into the Speaker’s seat in the first place.

Hastert officially became speaker at the beginning of 1999, following the tenure of Newt Gingrich. But Hastert was not the first choice to do so. Rather, Bob Livingston, a veteran Congressman from Louisiana who had been a visible figure in 1998’s House preoccupation with the scandal involving President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, had been chosen by his colleagues for that seat.

At the same time, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt issued a challenge: seeing as Congress was so upset about the President’s personal life, he placed an ad in the Washington Post offering $1 million to any woman who presented evidence that she had had an affair with a high-ranking government official. When several people came forward about Livingston, the Speaker-elect in December 1998 made an announcement to the world: “I have on occasion strayed from my marriage.”

“Livingston gave no details, which left Hustler publisher Larry Flynt to spread around whatever he pleased,” TIME reported. “With no sign of proof, Flynt claimed four women had told his staff about past liaisons with Livingston. Flynt said he has a tape of Newt Gingrich’s erstwhile successor engaging in ‘raunchy’ phone sex.”

Hastert, somewhat reluctantly, stepped up.”[Before] he had even decided he wanted the post, Hastert was already the front runner,” TIME reported. “Outgoing speaker Gingrich, whom Livingston had informed the night before, was buttonholing members on the floor. [Majority Whip Tom] DeLay was harnessing his network of 64 vote counters on behalf of Hastert, who happens to be his chief deputy. Within five hours of Livingston’s announcement, the race was won. ‘It’s over,’ said a senior Republican aide. ‘Denny was the hardest one to convince.'”

Hastert ended up serving in that position until 2007.

Read the full story from 1998, here in the TIME Vault: The Speaker Who Never Was

TIME technology

How TIME Explained the Way Computers Work

The Computer Society
The Feb. 20, 1978, cover of TIME

You don't need a Turing Machine to understand it

When Alan Turing submitted his paper On Computable Numbers to the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society on this day, May 28, in 1936, he could not have guessed that it would lead not only to the computer as we know it today, but also nearly all of the gadgets and devices that are so crucial a part of our lives.

The paper demonstrated that a so-called Turing Machine could perform solvable computations, a proof that is commonly seen as one of the original stepping stones toward the existence of modern computers. Though Turing, who died in 1954, never got to see a smartphone, his paper remains the touchstone behind the technology.

For a 1978 cover story about “The Computer Society,” TIME broke down how computers work in easy(-ish)-to understand terms, thus explaining why Turing mattered so much:

In the decimal system, each digit of a number read from right to left is understood to be multiplied by a progressively higher power of 10. Thus the number 4,932 consists of 2 multiplied by 1, plus 3 multiplied by 10, plus 9 multiplied by 10 X 10, plus 4 multiplied by 10 X 10 X 10. In the binary system, each digit of a number, again read from right to left, is multiplied by a progressively higher power of 2. Thus the binary number 11010 equals 0 times 1, plus 1 times 2, plus 0 times 2 X 2, plus 1 times 2 X 2 X 2, plus 1 times 2 X 2 X 2 X 2–for a total of 26 (see chart).

Working with long strings of 1s and 0s would be cumbersome for humans–but it is a snap for a digital computer. Composed mostly of parts that are essentially on-off switches, the machines are perfectly suited for binary computation. When a switch is open, it corresponds to the binary digit 0; when it is closed, it stands for the digit 1. Indeed, the first modern digital computer completed by Bell Labs scientists in 1939 employed electromechanical switches called relays, which opened and closed like an old-fashioned Morse telegraph key. Vacuum tubes and transistors can also be used as switching devices and can be turned off and on at a much faster pace.

But how does the computer make sense out of the binary numbers represented by its open and closed switches? At the heart of the answer is the work of two other gifted Englishmen. One of them was the 19th century mathematician George Boole, who devised a system of algebra, or mathematical logic, that can reliably determine if a statement is true or false. The other was Alan Turing, who pointed out in the 1930s that, with Boolean algebra, only three logical functions are needed to process these “trues” and “falses”–or, in computer terms, 1s and 0s. The functions are called AND, OR and NOT, and their operation can readily be duplicated by simple electronic circuitry containing only a few transistors, resistors and capacitors. In computer parlance, they are called logic gates (because they pass on information only according to the rules built into them). Incredible as it may seem, such gates can, in the proper combinations, perform all the computer’s high-speed prestidigitations.

The simplest and most common combination of the gates is the half-adder, which is designed to add two 1s, a 1 and a 0, or two 0s. If other half-adders are linked to the circuit, producing a series of what computer designers call full adders, the additions can be carried over to other columns for tallying up ever higher numbers. Indeed, by using only addition, the computer can perform the three other arithmetic functions.

Read the full story from 1978, here in the TIME Vault: The Numbers Game

TIME technology

The Teenage Pilot Who Could Have Caused a Global Crisis

Mathias Rust
Sovfot / UIG / Getty Images Mathias Rust, a west german teenager who landed a Cessna sports plane in Red Square on May 28, 1987, on trial for invading Soviet air space.

Mathias Rust caused a stir with a Cold War stunt

It’s been a rough couple of months for drone enthusiasts in the U.S. capital. In January, a drone manufacturer decided to disable its devices within the boundaries of downtown Washington, D.C., after a remote-controlled drone crashed on the White House lawn. And yet, earlier this month, another man was arrested for trying to use a drone too near President Obama’s residence.

This drone dilemma may seem like a singularly modern problem—after all, the world is only just confronting how to maintain safety and privacy in a world where anyone can operate one of the aircraft. And yet, these ill-fated aviators have a precursor who predates the availability of recreational drones.

His name is Mathias Rust, and it was on May 28, 1987, that he landed a plane in Moscow’s Red Square. His story, as reported by TIME the following week, sounds like the Cold War, pre-drone version of the stories that have come out of Washington in recent months:

Tourists and Muscovites strolling through Red Square that evening looked up to see a small single-engine plane coming in low from the south. It circled the great plaza, barely clearing the red brick walls of the Kremlin and buzzing the Lenin Mausoleum before finally touching down. At about 7:30 p.m. the little craft came to rest on the cobblestones behind onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral. Bystanders scattered. Police gaped in astonishment. Official black sedans sped to the spot.

Out of the plane, a blue-and-white Cessna Skyhawk 172, stepped Mathias Rust, 19, a computer operator and amateur pilot from Hamburg, West Germany. While the authorities debated what to do with him, Rust coolly signed autographs for the crowd, adding the words HAMBURG-MOSCOW. Shortly afterward he was taken away by police. Said a 24-year-old Muscovite who saw the pilot step from his craft: ”People did not know what had happened. Something this unusual does not happen every day.”

But, while drone landings at the White House have so far been perceived as stunts or mistakes, Rust’s flight had larger implications.

Until that day, the world thought that Russia’s tightly guarded airspace was effectively impregnable. That a teenager was able to fly hundreds of miles from Helsinki to Moscow without encountering that defense revealed that the Soviet military did not have as tight a hold on air security as had been believed. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Rust’s West German compatriots worried that his stunt, which seemed funny at first, might imperil the fragile relationships at the heart of the Cold War.

Rust himself said that he decided to undertake the flight in order to speak to Russians—but that summer he got more than he bargained for, when he was charged with crimes including “malicious hooliganism” and eventually sentenced to four years in a labor camp, of which he served about one.

“Rust again told reporters that his flight across 500 miles of tightly defended Soviet airspace had been part of a campaign for improved East-West relations. ”It was worth my freedom, my liberty,'” TIME noted on the occasion of his early release. “He admitted, however, that it was ‘not responsible’ and that he would not do it again.”

Read the full story from 1987, here in the TIME Vault: Welcome to Moscow

TIME politics

Rick Santorum’s Role in the Republican Renewal

rick santorum pennsylvania iowa republican
Charlie Neibergall—AP Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, on May 16, 2015, in Des Moines.

The 2016 contender came into the public eye during one of his party's most pivotal moments

Rick Santorum, in announcing on Wednesday that he would try for the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential race, joins a crowded field of political contenders.

But it won’t be the first time that the former Pennsylvania Senator and 2012 also-ran has made a splash as part of a large group.

When Santorum first made national news, it was in 1994, as an upstart Congressman going to bat for Senator Harris Wofford’s seat. In covering the race, TIME cast Santorum as a barometer of the nation’s stance toward issues that stretched far beyond the state’s borders:

A party that opposes the President unyieldingly, he reasons, gets a nice, sharp profile. It could work, for instance, on health-care reform, one battle most Americans tell pollsters they are are no longer sure they want the President to win. That the issue, once a sure plus for Democrats, is now a more complicated blessing is evident in Pennsylania, where Democratic Senator Harris Wofford is in a tricky race against Rick Santorum, a Republican Congressman who promises to protect voters from government interference in their health-care decisions. It was Wofford’s surprise victory three years ago over Dick Thornburgh, after a campaign that made health-care reform an issue, that first alerted politicians to its potential. But while Wofford is far ahead of Santorum in fund raising this year, their contest is a toss-up. ”Health care is a significant factor that has energized a lot of people who are nonpolitical,” says Santorum, with the clear implication that this time the newcomers are his.

As we now know, of course, Santorum was right.

That was the year of Newt Gingrich’s ascension, and when election time rolled around, the Republican Party’s midterm gains were immense. As TIME put it, “voters angrily revoked the Democrats’ 40-year lease on the Congress,” as the G.O.P. picked up seats in both houses of Congress and in gubernatorial seats across the country. Representative Toby Roth of Wisconsin put it even more strongly: “[This] was more than an election. It was a revolution.”

Santorum’s conservative appeal to voters carried the day in Pennsylvania, just as his colleagues found success in other states. The political sea change of 1994 continues to reverberate throughout the political world—and Santorum’s latest try for the presidency is only one way of many.

Read the full cover story, here in the TIME Vault: G.O.P. Stampede

TIME architecture

See Majestic Photos of the Chrysler Building Under Construction

The building opened to the public 85 years ago, on May 27, 1930

Not all new skyscrapers make news. But the birth of the Chrysler Building, in 1928, immediately commanded attention, as TIME reported:

Walter Percy Chrysler has just gained the head of the third greatest motor company by the Chrysler-Dodge merger. He is less individualistic than Mr. Ford, yet is mighty proud of his success and reputation. Last week he started selling mortgage bonds (through S. W. Strauss & Co.) on what will be the tallest building—in Manhattan or the world. It will contain 68 stories, and be 808 ft. high. It will, of course, be called the Chrysler Building and is Mr. Chrysler’s personal venture.

The completed building surpassed expectations, measuring 1,046 ft. and change.

“A great gesture towards a fortune built by automobiles is the Chrysler Building,” TIME reported shortly after it officially opened to the public 85 years ago, on May 27, 1930. “Oldtime Manhattanites recalled last week that 50 years ago its site was a goat pasture.”

Its opening ceremony drew the presence of many of New York City’s dignitaries—including Alfred Emanuel Smith, whose corporation was at that very moment constructing the Empire State Building, which would shortly knock the Chrysler from its place of honor.

TIME Autos

See Photos of the Ford Model T During Its Decades of Dominance

Production of the Tin Lizzie officially stopped in May of 1927

For years, Henry and Edsel Ford had been denying that the day was approaching. Asked whether they were working on a new model of car, after nearly two decades of producing the famous Model T, they kept mum. But, as TIME noted back then, “in the U. S. motor industry it is considered unpolitic for a manufacturer to say that he will do this or that. When he can produce, he talks.”

That changed in late May of 1927, the day that saw the creation of the last-ever, first-ever mass-market car. Over the nearly two decades since it had first been introduced in 1908, it had evolved somewhat—as can be seen in these photos—but it had never lost its signature look. Even though it took a little longer for the actual last Model T in the world to be produced, as various factories wound down those operations, the official date of production of the last Model T at the landmark Highland Park plant was May 26, 1927, according to Ford.

The end of an era came shortly after the company churned out its 15 millionth car, an event that was, TIME noted, celebrated in the only way that would be appropriate: by driving.

Besides being thus frank last week, Mr. Ford, hale again after his motor car accident two months ago…, went with his son Edsel to the Ford assembling plant; watched the 15,000,000th Ford car being completed. Father and son mounted to the seat, Edsel at the wheel, and drove to the Ford museum. There Mr. Ford took the driver’s seat of the first motor car that he ever manufactured, a two-cylinder contraption that he made and sold in 1903. He tinkled the doorbell that served Ford Car No. 1 as signal, and he and Edsel were off in their separate vehicles for a brief tour of the museum neighborhood.

Read more, from 1927, here in the TIME Vault: New Fords

A Ford Advertisement for Model T Automobile, circa 1909.
Fotosearch—Getty ImagesA Ford Advertisement for Model T Automobile, circa 1909.
TIME Television

Here’s What Pope Francis Might Have Seen When He Last Watched TV

Pope Attends The Pentecoste Celebration
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis attends the Pentecost Celebration at the St. Peter's Basilica on May 24, 2015 in Vatican City

The Pope hasn't turned on the tube since July 15, 1990

These days, Pope Francis makes headlines with practically every step he takes, and his actions and pronouncements are regular fodder for TV news—not that he would know. This weekend, in an interview with the Argentinian newspaper La Voz del Pueblo, the Pope revealed that the last time he watched TV was almost exactly 25 years ago, on July 15, 1990.

It remains a mystery which TV program made him hit the “off” button once and for all. If he was watching world news, July 15, 1990 was generally quiet day. But here’s a look at some of the top stories of the day, which he might have seen before putting down the remote:

A hit from Hammer: Music-news watchers were keeping an eye on M.C. Hammer’s album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, which looked like it was about to become the best-selling rap album in the genre’s history.

A rat in the White House: First Lady Barbara Bush announced that a few months earlier she had inadvertently taken a swim in the White House pool at the same time that a rat was doing the same. The episode ended with the President killing the rodent. Meanwhile, Neil Bush, their son, was implicated in a banking scandal.

A shortage of priests: A recent study of U.S. Catholics had shown a severe shortage of priests. The report predicted that, within 15 years, the nation would only have one priest for every 2,200 Catholics.

A hit in theaters. The movie Ghost had been released that weekend (July 15 was a Sunday) but would not be released in Argentina until the fall. Likewise, the future Pope would not have been able to watch that weekend’s top U.S. box-office draw, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, which didn’t make it to his region until August.

A World Cup loss: A week earlier, on July 8, West Germany had defeated the Pope’s home team, Argentina, in the World Cup finals. The particularly ugly game would likely have continued to be rehashed at least through the 15th—enough to make any Argentinian soccer fan walk away from the sofa.

TIME Education

10 Timeless Pieces of Advice from Commencement Addresses

Words of wisdom throughout the decades

Every year about this time, celebrities, politicians, prominent academics and other notables flock to college campuses to impart advice to graduates.

Some of those words of wisdom seem, in retrospect, not so wise. (Case in point: Clare Booth Luce advocating for the nuclear option against China in 1964.) Others endure because they aren’t words at all, as was the case when the speaker at Fairleigh Dickinson’s commencement in 1981 was Dizzy Gillespie—and, rather than saying much, he played his trumpet.

Some bits of advice, however, have stood the test of time. Here are 10 of the best that have appeared in the pages of TIME over the years:

 

  • Calvin Coolidge at Georgetown University

    In 1924: “The market for trained intelligence will never be overstocked.”

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Oglethorpe University

    In 1932: “The country demands bold persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.”

  • Ralph McGill, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, at the University of Miami

    In 1949: “It has sometimes been my idea that instead of a speaker offering sage advice, it would be a far better idea to place before a graduating audience a fine symphony … or a magnificent ballet, and when this had been completed, to say; ‘Ladies and gentlemen, life can be very lovely or very sad. It probably will be a mixture of both . . . Goodbye, and God go with you . . .”

  • Kirsten Mishkin, the first Radcliffe woman to deliver the traditional Latin commencement address at Harvard

    In 1970 (and this one’s in Latin, so it needs more room):

    Gaudete, vos feminae antiquae! O vos fortissimae invictaeque—Susania Antony, Elizabetha Cady Stanton, Elizabetha Blackwell, nostra Elizabetha Agassiz—quae pro suffragio, pro dignitate muliebri, pro educatione puellarum et doctrina quae pueris foret aequa fortissime contendistis. In universitate Harvardiana, in patria, in orbeterrarum, status feminarum plerumque inferior dudum habetur. Mulieres se contemnere didicerunt. Copiae et honores et titulihominibus dati tamen feminis sunt negati . . . Arma nondum licet deponere, meae sorores, nee proeliurn tarn Ion-gum tamque difficile nobis est relin- quendum. Ubique flagrat iniqua virorum dominatio.

    Rejoice, O women of old! O brave and unconquered—Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Elizabeth Blackwell, our Elizabeth Agassiz—who struggled courageously for suffrage, for womanly dignity, for an education and training for girls which would be equal to that of boys. At Harvard University, in America, in the world, woman’s position is widely recognized to be inferior. Women have learned to despise themselves. Resources, opportunities and honors available to men are denied to women . . . Not yet can we lay down our weapons, my sisters, nor must we abandon so long and difficult a battle. Everywhere an iniquitous male supremacy is rampant.

    “Together, let us establish a new society, the foundations of which will be … not fear, but good will; not war between the sexes, but loyal brotherhood and sisterly love,” she concluded, also in Latin.

  • Beverly Sills at Barnard College in 1981

    In 1981: “If you wonder when you’ll get time to rest, well, you can sleep in your old age if you live that long. You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

  • Coretta Scott King at Pomona College

    In 1984: “When we make politics a crusade, politicians will begin to understand that they must serve all of the people and not just a select few.”

  • Ann H. Zwinger at Carleton College

    In 1984: “I highly recommend the pursuit of happiness from east to west, bending and stooping, pausing, enjoying, not going anywhere in particular except down a beach or around a pond, always knowing that there is something wonderful just ahead.”

  • Barbara Walters at Hofstra University

    In 1986: “The hardest thing you will ever have to do is to trust your own gut and find what seems to work for you.”

  • Tracy Kidder at Sarah Lawrence College

    In 1986: “If you do feel a little worried, don’t worry about being worried. You’re heading out on an adventure, and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else.”

  • Jodie Foster at the University of Pennsylvania

    In 2006: “Your Penn education has given you a two-by-four. You may build a building or hit someone over the head.”

TIME Veterans

How to Preserve America’s War Stories Before It’s Too Late

Dennis Martin
Dennis Keith Martin Collection / Library of Congress / Veterans History Project Dennis Martin seated, in Vietnam, ca. 1970

The Library of Congress is collecting the country's first-hand accounts of war

On June 19, 1970, Dennis Keith Martin, a U.S. Army Corporal stationed in Vietnam, wrote a letter to his grandparents. “We are hearing a lot of rumors that the 25th Division or at least part of it will be the next to be withdrawn,” he wrote, at the close of the two-page note. “We are all hoping to be involved in it but I am certainly not going to hold my breath.”

Martin was killed in action that July. Monday will be the 44th Memorial Day since then. But his letters and photographs, like the one seen here, are very much alive.

That’s because Martin’s sister, Barbara, donated them to the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which has made them available online. The VHP was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000. In the 15 years since, the project has collected nearly 100,000 oral histories from veterans and their families, as well as the families of those remembered each Memorial Day. More than 15,000 of those stories and documents, the first-hand accounts of conflicts from World War I to the present day, can be accessed online.

“I feel like my brother’s experience, like so many other thousands, millions, of people in warfare—it’s such a great loss, and what for? Seeing his letters there it gives some meaning to what happened,” Barbara Martin, who is now a musician in Waynesboro, Va., says. “I think that a lot of times people have a skewed viewpoint of what war really is. I think anything that can show people this is what it really is, this is the horror of it, this is the reality of it, is a very good thing.”

The VHP has done just that for people like Hetal Shah.

Shah is a 19-year-old college student in Aliso Viejo, Calif., who has been volunteering to collect oral histories for the VHP since she was 15. (Anyone can do those interviews, by downloading the how-to kit from the Library of Congress). The very first interview she did for the project was with a World War II vet who told a story of deciding not to shoot a hungry Japanese man despite orders to shoot the enemy on sight.

“When he was saying this story he was crying, not because of the man’s situation but rather because he disobeyed the orders of his commander,” Shah recalls. “That’s when it really hit me how complex war is for soldiers and all the people involved. He mentioned his family and all the struggles they faced while he was away. It made war more complex for me and it gave me all of these different perspectives that I could never learn from my history class.”

Shah has come to see her VHP interviews as something of an urgent mission. The stories of World War I that have made it to the VHP have done so through family members, the same way the stories of men and women like Dennis Martin, who were killed in action, got there. But those veterans who made it home from war are full of stories that have yet to be collected.

“I’ll never get to hear the story of a World War I veteran from his or her point of view. We lose that every time that veteran passes on, we lose their stories with them,” she says. “If veterans are not interviewed before they pass on then no one else will be able to get that same perspective and story from them. It’s very important for us to continue doing this project so that everybody, no matter when it was in history, can know how it really was.”

Her message is exactly what the VHP’s backers hope the project offers. “It’s a resource for the country in the sense that it gives us a way of tying into and understanding the experiences of Veterans, as we think about the country, as we think about the future, and as we think about future military engagements,” says William “Bro” Adams, who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities—which is partnering with the Library of Congress to encourage veterans and the families of those killed in action to get involved with the project—and also a Vietnam veteran whose own stories are now part of the VHP archive. “These kinds of stories really give you a sense of things that no other form of recollection can give you.”

TIME technology

A Brief Guide to the Tumultuous 30-Year History of AOL

Time Warner To End Deal With AOL, Spinning It Off Into Separate Company
Mario Tama—Getty Images AOL corporate headquarters on Broadway May 28, 2009 in New York City

The dial-up Internet pioneer was founded on May 24, 1985

It was May 24, 1985 — 30 years ago this weekend — that the company now called AOL first came into existence. In honor of that anniversary, which comes just after the oft-derided company returned to headlines, here’s a quick look back at its turbulent history:

In 1983, Steve Case was a recent college grad with a home computer and modem who got a job at a company called Control Video, which sold Atari games. It collapsed shortly after he arrived. “Out of the ashes, Case crafted Quantum Computer Services,” TIME later reported. “His idea was to create an online bulletin board for owners of Commodore 64 computers. It wasn’t a sexy niche, but he thought it might have potential. From 1985 onward, Case nurtured Quantum from a few thousand members to more than 100,000.”

In 1991, Quantum was renamed America Online. By 1993, AOL introduced its own email addresses, a Windows version and access to the rest of the Internet for its users. Those moves led to some backlash—which soon became a recurring theme for the company.

At that time, one of the biggest sources of tension was that the Internet had previously been available mostly for people affiliated with colleges and universities. Users were used to dealing with “newbies” in the fall, as freshman acclimated to protocol, but now there were new users flooding in every day. “But the annual hazing given clueless freshmen pales beside the welcome America Online users received last March, when the Vienna, Virginia-based company opened the doors of the Internet to nearly 1 million customers,” TIME reported.

By the time AOL went public, the service had fewer than 200,000 subscribers, but TIME later reported that number soon climbed. In 1997, AOL announced they’d acquired CompuServe, riling many loyal CompuServe users. The backlash was echoed the following year when AOL picked up Netscape. The company faced more pushback from users when they switched from an hourly to a monthly pricing plan and launched a major membership drive that led to a traffic surge that couldn’t be handled by AOL’s existing modems. Still, it was, TIME noted, “a novel problem—too many customers,” and the company continued to grow.

By 2000, AOL was the nation’s biggest Internet provider and worth $125 billion. The company merged with Time Warner (then the parent company of TIME), and executives of the combined firm announced that they expected AOL Time Warner to grow 33% in the next year.

By 2002, it was clear such grand predictions were unrealistic. “Despite its powerful brand and unrivaled global member base of 34 million, the AOL division has seen its once stratospheric subscriber growth slow, its ad revenue fall and its international operations bleed money,” TIME reported. “The much ballyhooed broadband move–in which networked homes will enjoy high-speed connections to movies and music whenever they want–is off to a rocky start.”

The following year, Case—who had already taken a diminished role in order to spend time with an ill family member—resigned. “As the Internet bubble burst and advertising slid into recession, the company’s executives were slow to adjust their lavish profit-growth promises to Wall Street, which struck back hard,” TIME reported. “Having tumbled from a high of $56.60, the price of AOL Time Warner’s widely held stock stood at $14.81 at the end of last week, representing an almost $200 billion collapse of shareholder wealth. Levin was forced out. So was chief operating officer Bob Pittman, who had come from AOL. And now goes Case himself.”

AOL was down, but not out. The company split with Time Warner in 2009 and continued to chug along, making money off of its dial-up business and acquiring media properties like the Huffington Post in 2011. Now, AOL is the one being acquired.

Read more about how AOL is coming “back from the dead” here

Read a profile of AOL from 1997, here in the TIME Vault: How AOL Lost the Battles but Won the War

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