After 20 years of service, AOL Instant Messenger says goodbye to us. On Friday, the company announced the discontinuance of the chat platform that was a pioneer for many other Instant Messenger services. This is the beginning of the end of an era for those who were born between the 90s and early 2000s.
A spokesperson wrote in the company’s blog that AIM will stop presenting its services on Dec. 15. It said this is because of the other competitors, who are more evolved and have taken a big part of the market.
After Dec. 15, people won’t be able to sign in AIM, and all data will be deleted. However, AOL says anybody who owns an aim.com email address will still be able to use it whenever it wants, as this service will still be working as usual.
This impressed many people from the tech community, especially millennials, who were almost born with a device in their hands. AOL Instant Messenger kicked off in 1997, and it was known for being the leader, a giant, and one of the most significant services in online communication since email.
“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.
Those who experienced the beginnings of the internet should remember how it worked — the strange noise it made anytime someone tried to connect, for example. At that moment, the World Wide Web required a desktop computer with a clunky dial-up connection that tied up the phone lines.
Today, AIM is loved by many users because it was the service that helped establish a place for people to connect and talk online. This represented a considerable change and demonstrated that internet could be used not only as a utility but also as a way to communicate.
In fact, AIM not only allowed people to connect with others. It also let them express themselves, be creative, colorful — while making up their screen names and developing their profiles. Of course, most would feel embarrassed to see their old profiles now.
AIM was so known that it represents a massive part of pop culture, making cameos in series like You’ve Got Mail and Sex and the City.
People evolved, and AIM was left behind
Years later, many things changed. One of them was the creation of smartphones. Apple, for example, amazed the world with the first iPhone, letting people connect with others by using a device controlled with just a simple touch. In fact, users were not able just to call. The phone also came with a music player, camera, and an instant messenger service.
That same decade, the internet began seeing a range of social network apps, like Facebook and Twitter.
AIM, with a brand recognized by millions, had the chance to retake the lead. But it didn’t, and people progressively lost interest in their messenger. Recently, Oath announced that Verizon is merging with AOL and Yahoo, meaning good news for both companies.