Back in the day, there was a company called ‘AOL’.  They provided a service to people.  You had to have a computer and one of their disks that would come in the mail.

When you installed the disk on your computer, a couple of things happened; first off, you could now dial into the AOL servers and ‘experience the Internet’. Second, your printer would stop working.

Anyway, AOL was what you called an ‘Internet Service Provider’, they provided to us, the consumers, access to the Internet through our modems.  Our modems used phone lines and essentially dialed a number (or a group of numbers) to gain access to the server.

Now, usually, these disks had a deal associated with them.  Some free hours versus the paid hours you had to buy.  “20 hours free!” and whatnot all.  In order to redeem your free hours, though, you had to call special numbers dedicated to those offers.

That’s where the trouble started.  You had a month to redeem your free hours by calling those numbers, only AOL didn’t have enough servers up and running to accept your calls, so, you got a busy signal.  A lot of people would go the whole month without being able to connect and use their free hours, which made them very upset.

I believe this would be the very first ‘bandwidth’ issue in Internet History.

AOL was sued over these busy signals and were forced to admit that the demand for their service was greater than their network could handle.  They tried their best to beef up their network, but it wasn’t enough and they ended up having to pay up on that lawsuit and now, their service is pretty much a long standing joke.

All because their network couldn’t handle the demands placed upon it by consumers.

…sound familiar, AT&T?