Goodbye: AOL discontinuing pioneering Instant Messenger

Instant Messenger was wildly popular in the 1990s and 2000s. Users can use the program until Dec. 15.

The AOL Instant Messenger logo. (AP Photo/Axel Heimken, File)

The AOL Instant Messenger logo. (AP Photo/Axel Heimken, File)

Associated Press

AOL announced Friday that it is discontinuing its pioneering Instant Messenger chat platform after 20 years of service.

An article on AOL’s website posted Friday says AOL Instant Messenger will be discontinued on Dec. 15. In a blog post , a spokesman for AOL’s parent company explained the platform’s demise as the casualty of the evolving way people communicate.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” wrote Michael Albers, vice president of communications at Oath.

The program will still function until Dec. 15 After that date, users won’t be able to sign in and all data will be deleted. AOL says people with an aim.com email address will still be able to use it.

Launched in 1997, AOL Instant Messenger was at the forefront of what was called at the time the biggest trend in online communication since email.

The platform, which provided instant access to friends and contacts on a user’s “buddy list,” was wildly popular for the first few years after its launch. It claimed more than 100 million registered users in 2001.

AOL was fiercely protective of its dominance in the instant messaging market. It fended off rivals, including Microsoft, by blocking their messaging platforms from communicating with AOL users. Its actions prompted a coalition of rivals to complain to the federal government ahead of AOL’s ill-fated merger with Time Warner that was completed in 2001.

Its popularity as a communication tool waned amid the rise of text messaging, Google Chat and social networking sites.

Despite the decline in usage, the announcement Friday made the platform a trending topic online and revealed an outpouring of nostalgia. Some users posted images of the AIM’s famous “running man” logo outfitted with wings and a halo. Others reminisced.

In his post, Albers noted the strong affinity many feel for the messaging platform and its place in the evolution of communication.

“In the late 1990s, the world had never seen anything like it,” he wrote.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Boeing cutting more than 12,000 jobs with layoffs, buyouts

The company said it will lay off 6,770 workers this week, and another 5,520 are taking buyouts.

Alderwood mall is ready for the governor’s green light

The Lynnwood shopping center, closed since March 24, could reopen in June. But expect changes.

Snohomish County seeks to enter second phase of reopening

The variance request will go to the state if approved by the Board of Health and the County Council.

Firm accused of violating eviction ban agrees to restitution

About 1,450 tenants, including some in Marysville, will receive rent refunds or direct payments.

Boeing workers cope with the virus threat as layoffs loom

Five weeks after they returned to work, Boeing workers say measures inside the plants are mostly working.

Texan comes to defend Snohomish outlaw barber cutting hair

Bob Martin is defying orders to close. The man he calls his attorney didn’t go to law school.

Hundreds of masked guests line up as Tulalip casinos reopen

Tulalip Resort Casino and Quil Ceda Creek opened the doors on Tuesday after a two-month closure.

Worst jobless rate in the state: Snohomish County at 20.2%

In April, 91,383 were unemployed in the county. The aerospace sector was hit especially hard.

Small business relief effort inundated with 850 applications

The economy in and around Everett has struggled amid fallen revenues and uncertainty about the future.

Most Read