It seems to me I started participating on the AOL board in 97, and it officially ended in spring 99 (I say “officially” because if you have the direct link to the AOL board, it’s still there, and a few of the old timers still post the occasional message. I see anywhere from four or five to a couple of dozen every week or two).
I’m pretty sure I registered on the AOL board within a couple of months after they started up. At any rate, it was definitely a pretty new operation. Ed was the only board monitor, and it was a month or so later he “hired” Jane and then TUBADIVA (her username was all caps on AOL) as board goddesses.
I registered on this board in March 99, a week or so after it became available (I was out of town on business the week it started up, so I was a little late joining).
So if my memory is correct, the AOL board went about two years, from mid 97 to spring 99.