ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Yes, I Want Your Goddamn AOL CDs —

Yes, yes I do.


As you might expect, someone who does a lot of something (collecting) like I do, in a pretty public fashion, tends to get some pretty shiny-polished chestnuts tossed over the fence. The two winners, by a landslide, are:

“_______ 8″ floppies” (a whole variety of statements, from people having them to people wondering if they’re possible to save, the answer of which is yes)

“Hey, are you going to collect AOL CD-ROMs too?”

The answer, also, is yes.

Time to send me your AOL CD-ROMs. If you want to save me some time, image them into ISOs and scan the envelope you got them in and the front of the CD-ROM. But if not, send them to me.

Jason Scott, c/o Internet Archive AOL CDs, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118.


I think the big question back is why wouldn’t I try to image and archive all these CD-ROMs that came out of America Online? After all, for some time, half of all CDs manufactured in the world had an AOL logo on them. Like it or not, folks – those things are payloads of history.

You see, there wasn’t “a” AOL CD that went out. There were so many variations, containing so many different add-ons and wrap-ins, that they became time capsules in themselves. So yeah. I want them.

I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we’re talking. I want it all.

The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It’s over. The time when we’re going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there’s going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution… in the history books, now.

And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up.

I’m looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike.

CDs are still thought of as garbage, as refuse along the lines of thrown-out scrap metal or broken radios. People are chewing them up to make art:


All well and good – that’s the nature of entropy. But let it be known – if you’re one of “those people” who has a crate full of CD-ROMs, it’s time to pack them up and get them to a good home. My good home. We’re going to get everything from the CD-ROM era up and we’re going to make them playable and that’s going to be quite something.

So yeah, AOL CDs? Want them.

Because I want everything.


Categorised as: computer history | Internet Archive

Comments are disabled on this post


  1. raylee says:

    Also, you probably want every warez cd sold on the black market in every country too.

    Because they’re essentially the software piracy equivalent of shovelware cds, containing so much community drama. 🙂

    I wish I had more of them personally. Aside from the ones I’m interested in that are already on IA of course.

  2. raylee says:

    Also, may I take this moment to plug ArchiveTeam’s archival of everything that remains of the old AOL walled garden?

    We need as much help as we can get.

  3. fffff says:

    You forgot to include the mailing address.

  4. Grant says:

    Sorry, like many others, I sent all of mine to years ago.

  5. Pat Layton says:

    Please unsubscribe me – (and NO judgement from me to you about this!) I prefer not to see God’s name taken in vain – thank you for your consideration.

  6. bj0ern says:

    I might still have a AOL 3.5″ floppy with some kind of superhero on the cover. I’ll check it out.

  7. But what if *I* want my old AOL CDs?

    I have no practical use for them, I just don’t throw CDs out. I have stacks of “worthless” ones, and then all the ones for software I might someday want to load up again for nostalgia.

    • Steve says:

      For that software, it would be great if you could image the discs and throw them up on the Internet Archive. Scanning the CD case and the CD would be great, but the disc image is more important.

  8. BjB says:

    I’m guessing you would also want my America Online for the Apple II on two 5.25″ floppies with the envelope and letter to me (a beta tester for AppleLink at the time) saying, “Hey! We’ve changed our name to AOL! Please beta test this new software!” … however, I think I might be more tempted by the potential cash-in on eBay at the right time 😀

  9. J.R. Raith says:

    This post makes me really happy. I will definitely rifle through my piles of CDs when I’m next at home (which will be a few months).

    At the very least, I have some AOL 3.5″ floppy disks. I used to take them and re-write them, though — I was young! I know at least one has some AOL-related data on it, though.

  10. David says:

    Why don’t U leave God out of it Pal!

    • James Davies says:

      Jesus christ! By God, ever heard of free speech? ‘Goddamn’ is literally just a combination of 7 ascii characters. Oh my Lord, some people!

  11. Is there anything you *don’t* want? Commercial software? Old Slackware floppies? Clip art collections?

    Next time I clean out boxes in the garage, I’m sure I’ll have treasures for you.

  12. Chris M. says:

    Hmm, I have a 2 CD set of something called “Softbank On-hand”. Wait, its already in the Internet Archive.

    Wonder if someone broke the encryption on it after all these years. The deal was that the CD contained demos and encrypted copies of full releases of software that you could unlock by calling and buying an access code. No need to go to the local software store and you could buy software 24/7…… well except the fact that the internet made it obsolete. That and I have a promo copy of the short lived PC Magazine CD Edition around here somewhere. Hopefully somebody will archive the entire collection eventually.

    • slipstream says:

      >Wonder if someone broke the encryption on it after all these years.

      It’s DES, and the “access code” you’d get would have been a DES key with parity bytes, in hex format (so, 64 bits -> 8 hex digits).

      These days you can easily brute the key for each product.

  13. greg says:

    Saved everyone that i came across when they came in the mail were given away at stores etc, i have at least 40 variants, most in the sleeve they came in.Not giving them away though, i guess im collecting them too. I still use aol for email same address since 97, ha, i like it . you have mail schee..schee

  14. xpda says:

    Here’s some shareware I put up a few years ago:

    Help yourself. I’ll send (or image) some CDs of other stuff.

  15. xpda says:

    Also, here are some old 78s, medium to poor quality:

    I can get them in a form easier to download if you’d like them all.

  16. Commenter says:

    I bought a big box of AOL floppy disks and CDs on eBay for my collection. I’m not willing to part with them, but eBay is a good place to look. People sell their AOL disk collections in bulk. I may have paid $30 for 70+ disks.

  17. Shame you came out with this right now. I had the Argentine equivalents for several of these CDs and threw them away earlier this year. I would have gladly sent you the ISOs and scanned covers for them.

    I’ll as around though, someone might still have some, if you’re interested in non-US equivalents.

  18. Unnamed says:

    Will you pay for them?

  19. 7yl4r says:

    I have a stack of old AOL cds (no sleeves). I’d rather not waste my time scanning ones you already have though…

  20. Martijn says:

    I have a pile of those CDs you used to get with PC Welt magazines. No idea if anyone has bothered to upload those to yet. But what is the copyright status on these? It feels like I would be infringing on the copyright of the software when I image the discs and upload them free for all, especially given that it’s not all abandoned shovelware and includes things like virus scanners.

  21. nunya says:

    Nice the Internet archive which wasn’t broken to start with is being fixed to the point it is useless and your great contribution to society is going to be to save endless copies of an advertizing gimmick that contains no useful information.Brilliant.

  22. mitzieasley says:

    I just moved last year and threw away about a dumptruck load (okay, maybe just a car trunk full) of old AOL and shareware cds. My late husband was a packrat deluxe, and I am pretty sure he had a copy of the first one ever issued…lol.

  23. Linda Pauwels says:

    I just threw out dozens of them last year!! Finally decided it was time to clean out.

  24. LM says:

    Walnut Creek CD-ROM… I’ll never forget that name. The first CD-ROM that I ever bought was the SIMTEL MD-DOS archive, way back in ’92 or ’93 (I still have it stored somewhere). Then by 1995 you could access the contents of all their CDs at But it took a quite a while to download anything using a 28.8 or 56k dial-up connection.

  25. Jouko says:

    I have some cd:s from Finland….

  26. John says:

    It would be nice to see an online archive of some of Walnut Creek’s former offerings.

  27. D.A.N. says:

    Although I don’t have any AOL CDs, in 1995 I worked at a software company that made/duplicated AOL diskettes. I ran what was referred to as a “Hell Cell” which was comprised of 10 high speed duplicators and 10 high speed verifiers. In an 8 hour shift, I could duplicate, label, and bag about 23,000 disks. It was a fast paced job and the only time the duplicators were off and you could sit down was for breaks and lunch.

  28. I have at least (14) AOL cds laying around with various designs on them (including one that would only install in Spanish), but unfortunately no longer have the containers that most of them were mailed in. If you would want to archive any other Dial-up Internet providers who distributed disks by mail in my area, I also have (1) AT&T Worldnet disk, (1) Compuserve, (1) PeoplePC Online Disk, (1) JuniorNet 2.0 disk, (3) MSN disk versions, (4) Earthlink disk versions, (2) Prodigy disk versions and (2) Juno disk versions. I have also had my AOL account since AOL’s inception and have several early version 3.5″ floppies laying around. If I look hard enough, I would probably also find earlier versions of one or two of the other dial-up internet provider disks mailed out before CD-ROM was the norm.

  29. Jason P says:

    I have a bunch out of their original packaging and on CD spindles. Would that interest you?

  30. Peter Finkel says:

    I have 2 AOL CDs and will create the ISOs for them as well as scanning the cases. Where do I send the files?

  31. Dennis Relova says:

    I have a huge box load of 3.5’s and cd’s… but I’m keeping them all! I love all the different covers… they are all unique in their own way.