Before the dawn of social media, AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was the chat client for a generation. After 20 years, it shut down in 2017.
AIM was originally introduced as part of a chat app built into the AOL desktop. It launched on its own in 1997, and remained dominant even when competitors like Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger came along. But by 2011, Facebook and Google’s email chat, known as Google Chat or “Gchat” for short, had gained a significant edge.
Those of us who came of age in the 1990s and early 2000s fondly remember the halcyon days of chat rooms, lolspeak, and away messages. For a lot of us, AIM was the primary way to connect with our friends online across town and around the globe.
“If you were a ’90s kid, chances are there was a point in time when AIM was a huge part of your life,” Michael Albers, vice president of communications product at Oath, wrote. “You likely remember the CD, your first screenname, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists.”