Military Wiki
James "Jim" Kimsey
Born September 15, 1939(1939-09-15) (age 83)
Washington, DC, United States
Residence McLean, Virginia
Education Gonzaga College High School, St. John's College High School, Georgetown University, United States Military Academy, West Point
Occupation Founder, Chairman & CEO of America Online (AOL)

James V. "Jim" Kimsey (born September 15, 1939, Washington, D.C.)[1] is the founder, CEO, and first chairman of internet service provider America Online (AOL). Although Kimsey is best known for creating AOL—the largest company ever started in the Washington, D.C., area – he has spearheaded many other business, military and philanthropic endeavors.

Early life

He grew up in Arlington, Virginia. After being dismissed from Gonzaga College High School, he attended St. John's College High School, followed by Georgetown University for one term on an honors scholarship, and then the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1962.


Kimsey served in the U.S. Army, becoming a lieutenant and seeing active participation in U.S. interventions in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. In Vietnam, he made the acquaintance of future generals Wayne A. Downing (who also graduated West Point in 1962) and John Abizaid. He served three combat tours as an Airborne Ranger, two in the Vietnam War, earning various awards for service and valor. In July 2005, Kimsey was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame, which recognizes our nation's most extraordinary Rangers. In 2008, he received the Distinguished Graduate Award for Outstanding Service to the Nation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


In 1970, after eight years in the military, Kimsey bought a building in downtown Washington, D.C., renting out the top floor. On the ground floor he built and opened a bar known as The Exchange. He "became successful and opened other bars in the 1970s."[1]

In May 1983, Kimsey became a manufacturing consultant for Control Video Corporation, which was near bankruptcy. He was brought in by his West Point friend Frank Caufield, an investor in the company.[1] CVC was founded by William von Meister to market an online service called GameLine for the Atari 2600 video game console. Von Meister had previously hired Steve Case as a marketing consultant on the recommendation of his brother, investment banker Dan Case. Von Meister quietly left the company in early 1985. Shortly thereafter Control Video was reorganized as Quantum Computer Services, with co-founders Kimsey (CEO), Marc Seriff (CTO) and Steve Case. Quantum Computer Services was later reorganized as AOL. Kimsey served as CEO until 1995, when Steve Case took the helm.

Kimsey is a key investor in, and a director of private military contracting firm Triple Canopy, Inc.


He also serves as Chairman Emeritus of Refugees International Refugees International, an independent advocacy group that works to protect refugees and end the cause of displacement. Kimsey also serves as a member of the board of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and as a Senior Fellow to the Department of Defense Business Board. He is a member of the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. In 2010, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Kimsey to the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, which oversees the investment of all gifts for the benefit of the Library's collection and services. He serves on the executive committee of the National Symphony Orchestra.

His philanthropy also includes the Kimsey Athletic Center at West Point, which he established in 1995.[2]


Kimsey has received numerous entrepreneurship awards. He received Presidential appointments to the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees and the West Point Board of Visitors. In 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell named Mr. Kimsey as Chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons, an organization dedicated to identifying hundreds of thousands of missing from conflicts and natural disasters around the world, through DNA research.


  • Kimsey resides in McLean, Virginia and has three grown sons: Mike, Mark and Ray.[3]
  • Kimsey's relatives include the Meyer family of Peoria, IL.
  • In 1995 Kimsey established the Kimsey Foundation.[3] His philanthropy includes the Kimsey Athletic Center at West Point.[2]
  • In 2000, Kimsey purchased Marden House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for $2.5 million.
  • In 2001, Kimsey was named Chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia.[3]
  • In 2005, Kimsey met with Generals John Abizaid and Wayne Downing regarding the Iraq war.[4]
  • On October 30, 2006, Kimsey was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by President George W. Bush.[5]
  • Kimsey currently serves as Chairman Emeritus at AOL.
  • Kimsey has three sons and four grandchildren.


  • "I told Wayne, 'I'm going to send all these guys [in charge] a copy of 'The Godfather.' . . . You've got to think like the Mafia thinks. No, it isn't going to be fair. You're going to whack 'em at home. You're going to do stuff to their families. You've got to play dirty. You've got to get in bed with dirty people. . . . Wayne knows how to think like that." - to General Downing, regarding stategies for dealing with al Qaeda.
  • "I went to Georgetown University for a year. It was on scholarship, and I had everything paid for, but I still couldn't afford to go there. I was by far the poorest kid at Georgetown."
  • "They would look at me and say, My God, how are you ever going to compete with IBM?"


External links

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