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Meet the voice behind AOL's famous 'You've Got Mail' line

The voice of AOL
The voice of AOL

Over the last two decades, Elwood Edwards' voice has been heard billions of times.

He doesn't have a record-setting song; he never starred in a viral YouTube video; and you probably wouldn't know who he was by looking at his picture.

That's because Edwards is the voice behind AOL's four famous phrases: "Welcome. You've got mail. File's done. Goodbye."

How did he get the gig?

"My wife worked for a company called Quantum Computer Services that became AOL," Edwards told CNBC, "and in 1989 she volunteered my voice to [future CEO] Steve Case. And on a cassette deck in my living room, I recorded [the iconic phrases], it was digitized into the software as a test and has continued to the day."

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NBC's Brian Williams once asked Edwards—who worked at NBC's Cleveland, Ohio, station for more than 13 years—whether he is now wealthy beyond his wildest dreams on residuals or whether he performed the recordings at a time when his day-to-day work belonged to AOL. His answer? The latter, although Edwards says he has "a good relationship with AOL."

Elwood Edwards is the voice behind AOL’s four famous phrases: “Welcome. You’ve got mail. File’s done. Goodbye.”
Source: The Today Show | NBC

Edwards, who has been doing commercial voice-overs since high school, told Williams that his voice isn't frequently recognized by strangers, but he has pranked people by stating "You've got mail" when standing behind computer monitors. "I have fun with it," Edwards said.

Edwards retired in March after 47 years in television.