I am pretty sure I bought gold subscription or whatever it was called for that about 15 years ago. I think it is impossible to figure out what e-mail I had used back then
I had to use my newspaper route money xD
I remember if you only played as a trial it wouldn't save any progress you made. In Era though you could store your cash in the atm machines and that would save. The few key things I remember from playing Era back then was that players dropped cash when they died, you had to build a gun before you could buy it and mining seemed to be the best job at the time.
Good to hear that it is actually free now, but the servers look pretty dead. Not that many people still use computers now that everything can be done from a smartphone so it was a great idea to make the ios servers.