Tuesday, October 10th 2017

All Hail a Forerunner of Social Media, AOL Instant Messenger (1997-2017)

Perhaps the only surprising thing about the announcement last week that AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is shutting down December 15, 2017 is that it did not happen years ago. After all, AIM had a market share of less than one percent… in 2011! But it was not always like that. For internet users of a certain age, AIM, like Nullsoft's Winamp, was likely once one of those must have programs.

In its heyday, the mid-2000s, AIM accounted for over half the instant messaging market; helping to popularise online conversations, as well as features, like custom icons and personalized profiles, now taken for granted. The service gradually fell out of favor as social media evolved, not an entirely unexpected development. But AIM's problems went much deeper. The service, like Winamp, was completely mismanaged by AOL, which was never entirely comfortable with a free product nor able to adapt (to the rise of mobile communications). The early pioneers of instant messaging, AIM, ICQ and MSN Messenger, engendered cross-platform programs, like Skype and WhatsApp, that are capable of handling all forms of communication, not just text conversations amongst desktop users.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine
Add your own comment

24 Comments on All Hail a Forerunner of Social Media, AOL Instant Messenger (1997-2017)

#1
megamanxtreme
Wow! I can remember having tons of messengers on my desktop.
AIM, Yahoo!, Skype, QQ, IMVU, MSN(Windows Live Messenger), and many others.
It's been a good run. I actually haven't touched AIM in so long that I thought it was dead for over 7 years.
Posted on Reply
#2
RejZoR
I miss MSN Messenger (and later Windpows Live Messenger). Especially because you could chat and also quickly transfer files. It's a real chore doing this now.
Posted on Reply
#3
Chaitanya
I remember most of the computer dealers in India used Live messenger for all the communication between their city. Now a days whatsapp has taken over and no one seems to be using this service.
Posted on Reply
#4
StrayKAT
It's funny how much of a loner I've managed to be through my history on the net. I barely used AIM... and don't have facebook now.

I am oddly attracted to forums like this though.
Posted on Reply
#5
TheDeeGee
RejZoR said:
I miss MSN Messenger (and later Windpows Live Messenger). Especially because you could chat and also quickly transfer files. It's a real chore doing this now.
Yea, i have real fond memories of MSN back in the day.

Played a lot Battlefield 1942 back then, including modding. Quickly sharing small files, links and screenshots.
Posted on Reply
#6
bug
megamanxtreme said:
Wow! I can remember having tons of messengers on my desktop.
AIM, Yahoo!, Skype, QQ, IMVU, MSN(Windows Live Messenger), and many others.
It's been a good run. I actually haven't touched AIM in so long that I thought it was dead for over 7 years.
Seems like you needed Trillian.
I've hold onto Yahoo Messenger right till this last update turned it into something unusable. To add insult to injury, Yahoo actually had a feedback page for the new client, page where you couldn't find a single positive thing about it and they went ahead and released anyway.

IM may have gotten a lot more fancier over time, but the inability to send messages across services still irks me to no end.
Posted on Reply
#7
P4-630
The Way It's Meant to be Played
If MSN messenger would still excist I'd might be using that, when it became Skype I stopped using it since I didn't like it.
Also used ICQ and yahoo messenger for a few years lol.
Oh well, if needed I chat on facebook nowadays. :p

Things have changed over years.
Posted on Reply
#8
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
IRC 4 lyfe.
Posted on Reply
#9
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
AIM actually had the best file transfer protocol of early instant messengers. It even supported pause/resume.
Posted on Reply
#10
remixedcat
Chaitanya said:
I remember most of the computer dealers in India used Live messenger for all the communication between their city. Now a days whatsapp has taken over and no one seems to be using this service.
WhatsApp really grinds my gears because everyone always fucking asks for my whatsapp shiz... ugh... lol
Posted on Reply
#11
megamanxtreme
bug said:
Seems like you needed Trillian.
I did use Trillian for some time, but for some reason, I can't remember anymore, I decided to go back to individual messengers.
Posted on Reply
#12
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
I went from Trillian to Pidgin. I think I switched because Trillian stopped supporting MSN (related to Skype buyout) and I decided to switch to XMPP instead and I think Trillian didn't support it. It was either that or ads that pushed me to Pidgin, I forget which.
Posted on Reply
#13
Atnevon
I remember my transition super clear. Once GMail allowed for AIM into GChat I never opened a client again. I pretty much lived in GChat from 2005-2010. (Still always have a Gmail tab open out of habit)

Facebook seems to have really taken more and more in terms of friend chat but I still use my GChat (Hangouts now...I guess) as my method of choice. Interesting to look at the past 15 or so years and see slight shifts.

AIM though will always hold a special place.
Posted on Reply
#14
lexluthermiester
prickly said:
For internet users of a certain age, AIM, like Nullsoft's Winamp, was likely once one of those must have programs.
I still use Winamp! Two different versions actually. One for music and one for video. Sure there are others, but no one has yet to match the functionality, quality and versatility of Winamp. Media Player Classic, VLC and a few others are close and worthy runner-ups but still.

Back on topic, I never used AIM. Was never much of an IM/chat kind of guy. Still, it's weirdly sad and nostalgic to see that last little bit of America Online finally go offline for good. We've come a long way in 20 years. I wonder where we'll be in another 20?

StrayKAT said:
It's funny how much of a loner I've managed to be through my history on the net. I barely used AIM... and don't have facebook now.

I am oddly attracted to forums like this though.
Same here. Had facebook for a long time, but it went south a couple years ago and just sucks now.
Posted on Reply
#15
Vayra86
RejZoR said:
I miss MSN Messenger (and later Windpows Live Messenger). Especially because you could chat and also quickly transfer files. It's a real chore doing this now.
There's this application called Lync. Its MSN, but for business, if you can nab a licence somewhere, its brilliant.

Ah its Skype for business now I see

They do still have this
https://www.microsoft.com/nl-nl/download/details.aspx?id=35450
Posted on Reply
#16
prickly
lexluthermiester said:
I still use Winamp.... but no one has yet to match the functionality, quality and versatility of Winamp.
I don't disagree, sadly I had to move to foobar when I upgraded to my current system (6700k w. Asus Hero Alpha MB) as Winamp no longer worked with my rear speakers. No amount of tweaking/googling could fix the issue, out of synch audio playback.

I used IM back in the day, but, as my contacts lists dwindled, as people moved to MySpace and/or Facebook, I just lost interest; in part because long distance became more affordable.
Posted on Reply
#17
lexluthermiester
prickly said:
I don't disagree, sadly I had to move to foobar when I upgraded to my current system (6700k w. Asus Hero Alpha MB) as Winamp no longer worked with my rear speakers. No amount of tweaking/googling could fix the issue, out of synch audio playback.
If you use onboard sound, that's a common issue not just with Winamp. Personally never use onboard sound. Soundblaster sound cards are how I roll. Highly recommend one! Of course, it might also be your codec. FFDshow is one of the best and is fully Winamp compatible. Although, foobar is pretty good.
Posted on Reply
#18
StrayKAT
lexluthermiester said:
I still use Winamp! Two different versions actually. One for music and one for video. Sure there are others, but no one has yet to match the functionality, quality and versatility of Winamp. Media Player Classic, VLC and a few others are close and worthy runner-ups but still.

Back on topic, I never used AIM. Was never much of an IM/chat kind of guy. Still, it's weirdly sad and nostalgic to see that last little bit of America Online finally go offline for good. We've come a long way in 20 years. I wonder where we'll be in another 20?


Same here. Had facebook for a long time, but it went south a couple years ago and just sucks now.
What happened to it?

I had it in 2007 or so. It just made me very uncomfortable.. having different social circles I had kept apart all of my life suddenly converging. And then the preening... and almost feeling insecure myself to make my life more "exciting" (this is not natural to me.. but just being honest..I suppose women brought out the worst in me lol). I had to get away from it. I'm not very social anyways.
Posted on Reply
#19
lexluthermiester
StrayKAT said:
What happened to it?
It's gone super commercial. Instead of it's primary focus being a service helping people stay in touch, it's now completely focused on being a business and promoting crap people don't care about. Privacy went right out the windows shortly after they went public[stock market].
Posted on Reply
#20
StrayKAT
lexluthermiester said:
It's gone super commercial. Instead of it's primary focus being a service helping people stay in touch, it's now completely focused on being a business and promoting crap people don't care about. Privacy went right out the windows shortly after they went public[stock market].
I'm not surprised. Facebook (and Google) are really just advertising companies.... posing as something else.

But it was actually the "advertising" of it's own users that turned me off.... ironically. And what I almost felt dragged into myself.
Posted on Reply
#21
Prima.Vera
Sorry, but Winamp is still one of the best mp3 players out there. IS the only one that is using very high quality Direct Sound output for 5.1 systems.
The surround is just perfect on Winamp compared to any other media players.
Also the visualization is top notch.
Posted on Reply
#22
9700 Pro
I still use Winamp. Never used any other IM than MSN/Live Messenger back in the day.

Of course I also still use IRC.
Posted on Reply
#23
bug
prickly said:
I don't disagree, sadly I had to move to foobar when I upgraded to my current system (6700k w. Asus Hero Alpha MB) as Winamp no longer worked with my rear speakers. No amount of tweaking/googling could fix the issue, out of synch audio playback.

I used IM back in the day, but, as my contacts lists dwindled, as people moved to MySpace and/or Facebook, I just lost interest; in part because long distance became more affordable.
You have music encoded on more than two channels? Neat.
Posted on Reply
#24
johnnyfiive
Forget Tinder... I had AOL game. AOL is how I got to talking to a girl, who became my girlfriend. We've been together for 17 years now, married for 11. In all honestly, without AOL, I would have never gotten to know my wife. Thank god for AOL.

Does anyone still remember their ICQ login numbers? (I still remember mine)
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment