Juno: Email without the Internet
Yet even in the bad old 90's being able to email was becoming increasingly nessicary, but not everyone had (or wanted, shocking as it may seem now) full blown internet access. Plus your isp might not have a call number that's local to the hotel you're at, school demanded an email address, or you were rural like i was and the only isp in the area kinda ripped you off on rates so it was more trouble than it was worth.
Enter Juno. The idea was you used their software to dial out, upload any outgoing mail, download incoming mail, and you didn't have to pay anything outside of maybe long distance fees. They made it work by selling advertising space both in their client (and no you couldn't get this to work with Outlook, that was one of the things I tried) and basically spam mail to cover costs. On reflection it wasn't even that much spam, only four or five bits of mail a day as opposed to the dozens and hundreds now just off random email bombing runs.
The client originally didn't let you have any sorting capacity for incoming mail (no folder for work and another for family, or the like) and there was no way to filter out non-sponsored spam. Later versions let you sort mail, but never really had a good spam filter.
Was it good? Looking back through rose tinted glasses I'd like to think so since even when yahoo's mail servers blew up Juno was still there and even when my home internet was nonexistant due to it being the first service to get the axe when money was tight Juno was still there. It's unfortunate the business model fell through at the end of the dot com bubble, but it was inevetable really.
Juno's still around. My old address is still active. It simply hasn't seen use since 2004 since Juno stopped letting their free (er... Non-Premium) subscribers use a desktop client. This has put their useability, for me, somewhere less than every other webmail since even though it's the same address I've had since 1996 it's also an account htat even wit hthe shift ot webmail still gets flooded with 'sponsored messages' and no real spam protection to speak of. So while technically Juno's original promise of giving me an email address For Life is still true it's just become unuseablely not practacle given the alternitives.