'You've got mail' guy: I recorded phrase on a cassette in my living room 

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
By Eun Kyung Kim

You may not have heard of Elwood Edwards, but you’ve heard him — many times, in your own home.

The TODAY Orange Room’s mystery guest for Throwback Thursday was the man who uttered the simple phrase that ushered in a new era of pop culture: You’ve got mail!

#OrangeRoom+Clue+#1:+I've+spoken+to+all+of+you+before. Any+guesses?


For more than 13 years, Edwards has been a video and graphics editor at NBC’s Cleveland’s affiliate, WKYC. But his real claim to voice-over fame came in 1989, when he recorded four phrases for America Online that became legendary: "Welcome. You’ve got mail. File’s done. Goodbye."

Edwards said he recorded those phrases in his living room on a cassette deck. (Google it, kids.)



His voice and the famous phrases he uttered reached far beyond AOL subscribers, representing a generation raised on email and inspiring the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail," starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. At the height of AOL's popularity in the mid-1990s, Edwards' voice was heard more than 35 million times a day.

Yet, he said very few people have recognized his voice on the street.

“At my bank, they do. But when I’m out and about, people normally don’t have any clue who I am,” he said.

Sufficient compensation has helped soothe his undeserved anonymity.

“Let’s just say that I have a good relationship with AOL,” he told the TODAY anchors. 

His voice is so iconic it raised this question from Al Roker about another well-known voice actor: "Is it true you got into a fist fight with the Movie Phone guy?”



On Wednesday, Edwards announced his plans to retire after working for 47 years. On Thursday, he made a pitch to TODAY bosses for his dream post-retirement gig.

“What I would like to do next is voice-overs right here. Or graphics, right here,” he said.

Carson Daily then put him on the spot with an impromptu audition.

“Welcome to the Orange Room!” 

Follow TODAY.com writer, and former AOL subscriber, Eun Kyung Kim on Google+ or on Twitter.