AOL is having a birthday in a few months. Believe it or not, the internet pioneer is turning 35 years old on May 24th, and even though it’s relevance is pretty much in the rear view mirror, the iconic brand will bring back memories for a lot of people over the age of 50.
One of the unforgettable features of the AOL email service is the voice that would alert users to the fact that an email was waiting for them. Yes, there is an actual human behind that “You’ve Got Mail” greeting from the 1990’s. His name is Elwood Edwards, and now he’s in his mid-60’s. He’s the voice that alerted users about the mail waiting for them, along with the other catchphrases “Hello,” “Goodbye,” and “File’s Done.”
The backstory of how he got the gig is awesome. Back in 1990, Edwards was an anonymous voiceover actor, working on television and radio commercials. He recorded the messages for America Online, and was paid a grand total of $200.
He got the job because his wife was an employee at Quantum Computer Services, and she volunteered her husband’s services when she found out the company was looking for a voice actor. “I’ve been an announcer my entire broadcasting career,” Edwards said on the “Twenty Thousand Hertz” podcast back in 2019.”It was nothing new to me to hear my voice coming out of a little speaker. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. I don’t think anyone had any idea what it would become. Certainly, had I realized it at the time I would now be retired, but I’m not. Even today, I have an AOL account, an email account…When you sign on to that, you still hear me say, ‘You’ve Got Mail.’”
After 47 years cutting voiceovers in television, Edwards retired in 2014. Now he spends time as an Uber driver, and still mesmerizes riders who recognize his voice.
— Brandee Barker (@brandee) November 5, 2016