Patrick Gavin, co-founder of Text Link Ads, started his personal blog and wrote about the History of Text Link Ads, also known as TLA. The story is a good read and goes back to how TLA was created by two college roommates, Patrick and Bill.
For disclaimer purposes, TLA is an advertiser here and my company has built a significant portion of their back office systems. But anyone in the SEO community knows that TLA's history is really an important part of the history of SEO. The amount of threads, discussions, debates, concerns and success in the industry steams from the controversial paid link. Text Link Ads runs a nice portion of the public sale of paid links. They may be the most visible sign of the paid link in the SEO world, which makes them significant.
In any event, TLA has grown significantly in the past few years, as has the industry. I added my personal thoughts at my personal blog.
Forum discussion at Sphinn.