AOL Instant Messenger to shut down after 20 years

AOL today announced it is permanently shuttering AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) — its iconic chat service which debuted in 1997 and was popular in the ’00s.

Michael Albers, VP of Communications Product at Oath — the Verizon subsidiary which owns both AOL and Yahoo — said in a Tumblr post that he understands how important AIM was to many people:

You likely remember the CD, your first screenname, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists. Right now you might be reminiscing about how you had to compete for time on the home computer in order to chat with friends outside of school … In the late 1990’s, the world had never seen anything like it. And it captivated all of us.

I’m not sure how many people will mourn AIM’s loss on a practical level — I haven’t even heard of anyone using it in the last few years, which isn’t surprising given how many more sophisticated alternatives are available. That’s not a dig at the company, for the record: I actually still have my old AOL email address (it was my first, and I’m sentimental).

Whatever its value, or lack thereof, on a modern internet, it’ll be sad to see a piece of Internet history go after 20 years. The service officially shutters on December 15, 2017.

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