Tim Wilson at the Creative COW got with me in mid-December on this very same topic. The nice folks at The COW now have my story and selected screen grabs; I expect my tale to grace its pages in a short time.
Long story short: in the mid to late '90's, After Effects was the gateway to looking really good if you were in broadcast TV.
With a small investment of money, a bigger investment in learning & experimentation and possibly an even bigger investment in render times, work done by Little Guys like us at a TV station in market 80-something in Iowa could look just as good as work coming out of the network in New York or LA.
The competitors in our market wondered how we did it, and we had ABSOLUTELY no intention of telling them. When pressed, we'd mention anything BUT After Effects. Were you aware that 90's-era NLE's, once you got to know them well, could work miracles? Didn't think so.
So, I guess you can blame me for a half-dozen or more copies of AE versions 3, 4 and 5 not being sold in Eastern Iowa. Feel free to take it out of my Adobe paycheck... ha!
Mine's coming out soon. You'll get the full story then, but in short, AE allowed me to work on two Pixar films: Finding Nemo and WALL•E. Pretty cool!