The man who invented pop-up advertising is sorry

Ethan Zuckerman, the programmer responsible for online pop-up advertising, is sorry. In a piece written for The Atlantic, Zuckerman says he didn't realise what he was bringing into the world when he wrote the code for the first pop-up over 20 years ago.

By Alex Choros

Ethan Zuckerman, the programmer responsible for online pop-up advertising, is sorry. In a piece written for The Atlantic, Zuckerman says he didn't realise what he was bringing into the world when he wrote the code for the first pop-up over 20 years ago.

Zuckerman, who was working at Tripod.com at the time, explains that the pop-up was a way to associate an ad with a page, without putting it on the page. Advertisers were worried an ad would imply a connection or an association between their brand and the page's material.

"Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they'd bought a banner ad on a page that celebrate … sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it," wrote Zuckerman, "I'm sorry. Our intentions were good".

When now defunct webhost Geocities launch pop-ups a few weeks after, they used Zuckerman's code.

To read Zuckerman's entire article, click here. Aside from apologising for his previous wrong-doings, he explains how the advertising-based business model came to dominate the internet, why it shouldn't, and we what ought to do.

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