The company began in early 1994. When Louisville native Charles Brewer decided to start his own company, he knew the kind of company it would be: one in which employees enjoyed their work and were given responsibility; one that treated its customers with respect and always met its commitments (see MindSpring Core Values and Beliefs).
The idea of applying this philosophy to an Internet-related company came to Charles when he attempted to get on the Internet for the first time. The experience was not a positive one; armed with a text-only shell account, no documentation, and unresponsive technical support, Charles spent a frustrating couple of days trying to get connected. He immediately realized the need for a software package that installed easily and configured itself, for a graphical front end that made the software easy to use, for a technical support staff that was accessible, friendly and competent, and for a reliable connection. Charles worked with a software developer to come up with the graphical interface he wanted.
In the spring of 1994, Charles offered the service for free to a group of twenty beta testers and hired 20-year-old whiz kid Robert Sanders to provide the technical support and build the network. MindSpring was born. The users loved the service and provided ideas for improving the interface. Word spread about MindSpring's focus on service and support.
By the end of the summer, Charles had a few hundred paying customers. In November, 1994, ITC Holding invested in MindSpring. ITC and its leaders, Chairman Cam Lanier and President Bill Scott, have a long and extraordinarily successful record of building and financing telecommunications companies, including SouthernNet, Telecom USA, Async, InterCel, InterCall, Interstate FiberNet, InterServ, and CyberNet Holdings. With the financing from ITC, MindSpring began to expand the network, opening local Points of Presence in West Point and Columbus, Georgia, and in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. Charles continued to hire people to fill the orders, fine-tune the package and its documentation, and - most importantly- keep the network running smoothly and the subscribers happy.
Charles' long-time friend, Mike McQuary, joined the company in July 1995 and was named MindSpring's Chief Operating Officer in September of 1995. Mike, who had twelve years experience with Mobil Chemical, has served on the MindSpring Board of Directors since December 1995. Mike became the President of MindSpring in April 1996; Charles continues to serve as Chief Executive Officer.
In March 1996, MindSpring became a public company and is now traded on NASDAQ as MSPG. As of September of 1998, MindSpring had expanded its operations to offer service in over 375 cities across the United States, and has grown to over 400,000 subscribers.
MindSpring merged with EarthLink in 2000 and the name was retired until reused for a different product.