Erol's Inc. was a video rental and electronic sales and repair company founded in the early 1980s. It was sold to Blockbuster Video for $40 million. Its success was widespread enough to spawn imitations. In Bolivia there are several video rental stores called Errol's (with 2 R's) using the same font and red text on a yellow background for their logo.
Using the money from the sale of the video company, Erol would then expand his TV repair company and began selling and repairing computers. Soon afterward, he created an ISP bearing his name in the mid-1990s, called Erol's Internet. The ISP was based in Northern Virginia, at the longtime Erol's headquarters at 7921 Woodruff Court in Springfield, Va., and was the Washington D.C area's main competitor to AOL and smaller ISPs such as ClarkNet and CAIS. While owned by Erol Onaran, the business was run by his son, Orhan Onaran. Services provided by Erol's Internet were basic dial-up access with e-mail accounts and web space. Initially, Unix shell accounts were also provided. Unlike AOL, Erol's did not provide subscriber content, though limited attempts at this were made in later years. Erol's popularity was due to its locally based customer support, as well as cheaper prices. At one point a 5-year contract for dial-up access could be purchased for just over $300, bringing the monthly cost well below $19.95, which was the average price for all other competitors.
While focused mostly on residential customers, a unit called the Business Services Group (BSG) was set up to provide business services, such as custom domain names with web sites and email, RealAudio, dedicated servers, and static IPs or network blocks. Among the more famous customers was Reba McEntire, whose reba.com Web site was first hosted at Erol's. BSG was phased out after less than two years, although business services were available for several years longer.
In the late 1990s, Erol's sought to become a publicly traded corporation and began the process toward an IPO. Instead, the Internet portion of the company was sold to RCN. It was rebranded Erols Internet (note the lack of the apostrophe). Slowly, over time, the Erols brand was reduced in favor of the Starpower and later RCN brand, although the domain name still resolves to RCN servers.
The Onaran family retained a small store in the nearby Ravensworth shopping center under the name Erol's Computer; it sold computer parts and repaired computers and video equipment. It expanded later to include a modest selection of DVD rentals. It was located where one of their old video rental stores used to be, which was taken over by Blockbuster Video, which was then converted back into an Erol's store. Later, the store moved down the street, near its old ISP headquarters, to a converted storage unit at 5232 Port Royal Road, Springfield, Va., where it operated as Erol's TV-VCR & Computer Service. Around 2007, the store had reportedly gone out of business (unconfirmed), with no more Erol's presence, other than a few remaining erols email accounts currently supported by RCN, known in the area after 20 years.
- Conn, David (November 20, 1990). "Blockbuster agrees to buy Erol's chain Curran examining antitrust concerns". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 26, 2012.
- Errol's Video in La Paz, Murple.net
- "Company News; RCN To Buy Ultranet and Erol's Internet" New York Times, 22 January 1998, NYtimes.com