As with many things, online advertising started with the most noble intentions:

“We wanted them to have this incredible offering,” Clausen said. “The idea was to extend the experience and allow them to go and have access to something they never thought they would.”

Many remember the copy on that first banner — “Have you clicked here? You will.” — but mistakenly think it led to an AT&T page. Instead, McCambley and Kanarick built a webpage that collected the early sites of great museums of the world. (Artists were early adopters of the Web.) AT&T would enable people to tour the great works of The Louvre, the Warhol Museum and others. The brand would be, as Modem founder GM O’Connell preached, a service.

“You have to remember back then it was hard to get on the Internet,” O’Connell said. “Most people, if they had access, it was through dial-up modems in the home. It was more about discovery, enlightenment and kumbaya than we’re here to measure the effectiveness of this banner versus the other.”