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America Online Communications

When AIM Was Our Facebook 395

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Gizmodo reports that there was a stretch of time in the 90s and early 00s when AOL was a social requisite. 'Everyone had an AIM handle,' write Adrian Covert and Sam Biddle. 'You didn't have to worry about who used what. Saying "what's your screenname" was tantamount to asking for someone's number — everyone owned it, everyone used it, it was simple, and it worked.' When we all finally got broadband, it was always on and your friends were always right there on your buddy list, around the clock. AIM was the first time that it felt like we had presences online, making it normal, for the first time ever, to make public what you were doing. 'Growing up with AIM, it became more than just a program we used. It turned into a culture all its own—long before we realized we'd been living it.'"
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When AIM Was Our Facebook

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  • Strange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli (522659) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:16AM (#36165428) Journal

    He must have lived in a parallel universe. In the 90s it was IRC.

    • Re:Strange (Score:5, Informative)

      by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:23AM (#36165530)

      He must have lived in a parallel universe. In the 90s it was IRC.

      It probably depends what country and what age you were. In the 90s for teenagers in Britain, it was ICQ, then MSN Messenger (released 1999), with the latter being much more popular. "What's your email?" meant "What's your MSN messenger ID?". I visited some distant teenage relatives in the USA several times around this time, and remember being as surprised that they didn't know what MSN Messenger was as they were that I didn't have AIM.

      • Re:Strange (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RogerWilco (99615) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:38AM (#36165780) Homepage Journal

        It probably depends what country and what age you were. In the 90s for teenagers in Britain, it was ICQ, then MSN Messenger (released 1999), with the latter being much more popular. .

        Agreed.

        This is how I have seen it in the Netherlands:
        First half of the nineties: IRC, telnet talkers and such
        From 1996-2000/1: ICQ and some lingering IRC.
        From 2000/1-2006: MSN and some lingering ICQ and IRC
        From 2006: Hyves, Facebook, mySpace, Skype and lingering MSN

        Because of a large installed base, it seems to take an old "champion" a long time to really drop into disuse even if the majority of users flock to a new service, they maintain the old one for several years.

        AIM: maybe in the USA where America was Online, not so much in the rest of the world.

        • by RJHelms (1554807)

          With the exception of Hyves, this is how it went in Canada (at least Ontario) as well.

          AIM? The only people I know who use(d) it had strong connections to the USA.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ynp7 (1786468)

            My strong connections to the USA involve having been born here and lived here my entire life... and I don't remember AIM ever being a big deal...

            How is this article even news? It's more like, "hey, remember that time I made make believe and pretended AOL was ever anywhere near as ubiquitous as Facebook?!?!"

            • Re:Strange (Score:5, Interesting)

              by SilentStaid (1474575) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @10:09AM (#36166250)
              While I agree with what you say, I would like to point out that at its prime, AOL had almost 30 million subscribers in the US when our country's entire population was 270m (give or take a few).

              In 1997, when AIM was released as a standalone application, AOL already had 11% of the US population use their service at a time when only 22% of that same population was online. That means that at it's peak AIM had 50% (15m) of active American internet users using it. Now compare that to Facebook's recent estimate of about 45% (115m), despite the 100million more users Facebook has, a lot of that can be attributed to penetration of 'net users.)

              Just because you didn't use it, doesn't mean it wasn't the clear cut winner in the US for communication standard.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Yeah, crazy how this American website talks about American stuff, isn't it?

        • Re:Strange (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bhcompy (1877290) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:46AM (#36165886)
          ICQ and IRC. In the US. None of the geeks used AIM, that was for script kiddies and random people. And from there it was Trillian, so it didn't matter what you had.
          • Yahoo Messenger for me starting in about 1996 when I went to University, then added MSN Messenger about 2001 once I had my own computer. Now I maintain two MSN, two Facebook, Yahoo, and Skype on Pidgin. Trillian was good but it fell behind considerably to MSN and Yahoo in features I used at that time(webcam, photo sharing) then once I jumped to Linux in 2007, I started with Kopete and my habits changed anyway so I didn't really miss photo sharing or webcam. I still miss file transfer though.
      • Re:Strange (Score:4, Interesting)

        by slyrat (1143997) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:46AM (#36165880)

        He must have lived in a parallel universe. In the 90s it was IRC.

        It probably depends what country and what age you were. In the 90s for teenagers in Britain, it was ICQ, then MSN Messenger (released 1999), with the latter being much more popular. "What's your email?" meant "What's your MSN messenger ID?". I visited some distant teenage relatives in the USA several times around this time, and remember being as surprised that they didn't know what MSN Messenger was as they were that I didn't have AIM.

        ICQ was definitely what I used for ages until too many people had AIM only. At that point I finally switched over to AIM. MSN messenger was always the one I never had. I think there were a few features that it didn't have. For that matter, ICQ had a lot of features that didn't make it into AIM until at least 10 years later, which was always annoying. I do agree that I used IRC a lot before/while I used ICQ. It seems the non-technical/geeks went to AIM first and completely skipped ICQ.

        • by gauauu (649169)

          In 1997-1999 at UIUC, most everyone I know used AIM. There were a few people using ICQ, but pretty much everyone used AIM. Everyone I know in my age group skipped MSN.

          My sister, 4 years younger than me, skipped AIM and went directly to MSN.

          So it really depends on your location and time, and could vary greatly depending on exactly when and where you were.

      • In my experience as a Belgian:

        ICQ was global, mostly students (I remember Chinese, Australians and Indians) used through "random chat"

        MSN Chatrooms were before MSN-messenger (messenger was the extension of the chatrooms). You would pop in there, ownership of channels would account for your "ID". They closed them down around 2000 because of the general public entering (cheap broadband coming up) and using them for sex-chats and harrassing kids/teens.

        IRC was global and used by everyone, would amount of
      • by Mjec (666932)

        He must have lived in a parallel universe. In the 90s it was IRC.

        It probably depends what country and what age you were. In the 90s for teenagers in Britain, it was ICQ, then MSN Messenger (released 1999), with the latter being much more popular. "What's your email?" meant "What's your MSN messenger ID?". I visited some distant teenage relatives in the USA several times around this time, and remember being as surprised that they didn't know what MSN Messenger was as they were that I didn't have AIM.

        Identical flow in Australia. IRC - ICQ - MSN - Facebook.

      • Well, the A in AIM was for AOL (nice...an acronym inside of an abbreviation...that'll never be confusing, right?) and the A in AOL was for "America". Makes sense "America" Online didn't take off in NotAmerica ;-)

        • Makes sense "America" Online didn't take off in NotAmerica ;-)

          Not for lack of trying though. We in NotAmerica still had to put up with those fucking AOL CDs arriving in the post every other day.

    • by morari (1080535)

      Everyone had an AIM handle

      Nope, no AIM here. I remember PowWow and ICQ though. :)

    • Re:Strange (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:26AM (#36165600)
      For me and my circle of friends it started with AIM and mailing lists. _After_ that we started an IRC channel, at which point the mailing list started withering away. Then everyone got LiveJournal accounts, which finished off the mailing list and mostly killed off IRC as well. Then Facebook came along and mostly killed off LJ. For my AIM usage (and its much younger cousin gtalk) have been in steady decline during that whole process, though given what i see on my friends' feeds Twitter has taken up some of that role.

      I'm really hoping that eventually something new will come along to knock out Facebook in turn, hopefully even something that will at least pretend to let me have a little privacy/anonymity. I can't say that that last hope is especially high however.
      • I wish that I had mod points for you. It always feels like we're bombarded by the "facebook-is-forever" style comments, along with the "I-didn't-use-it-so-it-so-no-one-did."

        As something of a social nerd, I will attest to the fact that despite having ICQ, IRC and MSN - I never had as many active people in America on those as I had on AIM.
    • In the 90s it was IRC.

      In the '90s it was definitely IRC (although it certainly wasn't ubiquitous for everybody). In the late '90s, ICQ popped up. When I went to college in the early '00s, though, it was the first time everyone I knew in a community used such a messaging/presence system, and it was AIM. Those, like me, who had never used AOL created an account just because so many people already had them.

      In my opinion, it was much preferable to the Facebook of today. Conversation could be ephemeral (even though I kept logs)--post

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Conversation could be ephemeral (even though I kept logs)--posting anything to Facebook, even a "private message", feels like filing every word into the eternal register.

        Have you seen how difficult it is to delete messages from Facebook? You have to click "Messages", "Show all", then "Archive" messages (you can archive one at a time with a single click). You then have to click "Show archived", and click five times to delete a single message (select message, actions, delete, delete all, confirm). Using my phone I can delete non-archived messages without having to first archive them, and it's less touches than using a PC, but it's still almost as ridiculous.

        It's probably al

    • by mnmn (145599)
      I was thinking the same thing. AIM was the first feeling of being online? Hell no! It was 9600 baud modems, BBSes and the first live chat for a lot of us was IRC.

      I know I know unix has a chat thingy too, but it was IRC that connected the world, in strange little dungeon chatrooms, where you had to smell the bots before trying to download mp3s from them :)
    • by e70838 (976799)
      In 90, I was using xhtalk.
      I have seen IRC the first time only in 92.
    • Re:Strange (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX (665546) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:36AM (#36165760)

      There was no one technology in the nineties that dominated- many technologies achieved supremacy only to be replaced by a similar but different technology a year later.

      IRC was never mainstream popular- its dominance was due to the tech-savvy adopting it, rather than because the masses used it. The masses wouldn't know what efnet or dalnet were, or how to find a good list or IRC servers for given networks. The tech-savvy also were the ones who adopted ICQ. The mainstream used AIM, Yahoo Pager, and later MSN Messenger, and that's why those took off- there was no number versus name, no obfuscated configuring or servers, it just required you to register for a username, then use that to log in.

      Technology's success appears to be based on accessibility- Microsoft, and to an extent, Apple, see success because their OSes are preloaded so the average idiot user can unbox the new computer, plug it in, and just start playing. Linux doesn't enjoy that preloaded userbase, which explains why the various distributions still fit a niche market. This is also partially why during the antitrust suits against Microsoft, companies like AOL worked hard to get their main software and their other products like AIM preloaded as part of the agreement, and is also probably why Microsoft makes it damn difficult to get MSN Messenger to go away.

      I'm guessing that accessibility is why Facebook is doing well at the moment. For awhile it was the place for college kids, which of course meant that high school kids wanted to be on. That drove demand, so when they opened it up to everyone, everyone tried it out, and finding everyone on, it was easy to get people to stay, at least for the moment. I'm sure that it'll change too, as they'll break something at an inopportune moment and a newer, "better" (and I use the term loosely) thing will come along and steal their userbase. That's what seems to always happen, after all.

      • by elsJake (1129889)
        Actually IRC was massively popular in Romania in the 90's. Everybody would hop on dial-up after 8:00 pm when the phone tariffs where lower. It was not just for the technical. Radio stations used to read comments and play tracks requested on IRC.
        Undernet was _the_ network of servers to hang on , huge wars took place for control of popular channels. Meanwhile everybody was looking for a "non-free" email account (non yahoo/msn , etc ) so they could register with Undernet and have their ip hidden.
        Later on every
    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      I was going to say, in the early 90s, it was multiline BBSes, many of which tied into IRC, then IRC. ICQ gained a little ground for personal chats, but for "social networking" there was no better system than IRC, a system that is still in use today.

      What happened is now everyone has a digital camera and wants to share more than text (not so bad) but people don't want to learn how to use a computer for anything other than an appliance (is so bad). In the middle 90s, anyone on any IRC channel knew at least s

    • Did everyone use IRC? I mean almost everyone everyone. In its heyday virtually everyone between the ages of 10 and 25 was using AIM. Can the same be said for IRC? I'm not trying to incite anger, I just don't know because I wasn't around for it. Was IRC accessible and used by everyone and their grandparents?
      • by bugg (65930) *

        The internet wasn't being used by nearly as many people in the 1990s, especially the early to mid-90s, as it is today. It is hard to compare across decades without pausing to realize that. A lot of the differences have to do with the amount of business and commerce that happens on the internet, as well as the work done by AOL (and to a lesser extent massive ISPs like Earthlink) to market the internet for the masses.

        Most of the people I knew on the internet used IRC, but that's clear selection bias: most

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      Not to interrupt the "I was online before you" dick waving that inevitably results from stories like this (and is in abundance in replies to your post), but the article is referring to the first time the general public experienced the social aspects of the Internet. Sure, nerds like us were using IRC and the talk command before that for real-time communication, but that was back in the era when the Internet was either completely unknown to the general public or was seen as something "those computer people"
      • I lost my dick in a freak car accident, you insensitive clod!
      • Around 1998, pretty much everyone in my class had an ICQ account. When I went to university, I switched to using Jabber with an ICQ transport, but most of my contacts were still on ICQ for a long time. I later added an MSN Messenger transport, because a lot of people seemed to use that. I retired my AIM transport a few months ago, because no one in my roster still used it. There are a few lingering MSN users, but pretty much everyone else has moved to Jabber (mostly Google Talk, although I host a few fr

      • Re:Strange (Score:5, Informative)

        by uglyduckling (103926) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:58AM (#36166086) Homepage
        No. ICQ was the first messenger that was used by a significant number of "normal" people, globally speaking. AIM was an almost exclusively US phenomenon. ICQ predates AIM by over a year, and on a global scale was more popular than AIM until bought by, and integrated into, AOL.
        • I agree. ICQ is what most of the people I knew (tech and non-tech alike) were using. Ironically, it was basically used to see who was around and get them into IRC!

          Of course people here keep parroting "the tech-savvy were using IRC..." which, while true, isn't the whole truth. While I used IRC for tech talk and for hanging around with geeks, I also did a lot of casual chatting and fantasy role-playing there too and in due course met A LOT of non-techs (a few of which I still talk to even now).

      • by fermion (181285)
        Nerds like us were using BBS to interact and play games. Then the 'Internet' came and as time went by the tools for social interaction became simpler to use and pretty GUIs were added. AIM was what the youngsters in certain areas used, while I noticed many other used Yahoo. What I noticed is that when the kids of 90's got office jobs, they had AIM and the like on for constant connection to keep up with their friends and hook up. Since work does not have the compressed space and social opportunities of s
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        at least where I grew up, everyone in my age group knew about irc, it wasn't just for us who copied games or coded. it was(and still is) a great technology to keep in touch with random, willingly participating, people.

        maybe the really dim one's didn't catch on what other pupils were doing in computer class but most did. and irc was featured again and again on the (national to finland) magazines - and even news outside of computer magazines, local papers, national tv... including all the scaremongering now d

    • Re:Strange (Score:5, Informative)

      by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:42AM (#36165836)
      Yeah, and for me it was newsgroups. And for others it was IRC, email and even older things. What actually ruined the newsgroups was the influx of AOL users asking high-school homework questions on sci.math for example ( all the really smart guys then left ). Of course the first big wave of the masses think the tools they used at the time were the first.
    • He must have lived in a parallel universe. In the 90s it was IRC.

      It just seems to me he lived/lives in the US. You know, the land of the delightfully ignorant. Anyways, I agree with you: it was almost ubiquitously IRC everywhere, atleast here in Finland. And those few who used any IM applications used ICQ. I have never heard anyone here use AIM, ever.

    • My very first foray into IRC when I was a teen ended up with me getting banned from my first visit to a newbie room because I mentioned someone had told me it was a great place for downloads. Which it was, of course, but the IRC admins were paranoid, and banned newbies who came in looking for warez. It all worked out, though - within a month, I was smashing F5 with the best of them trying to get a precious download slot for episodes of Sailor Moon.
    • by Swampash (1131503)

      Don't know where the Gizmodo staffers were in the 90s but for me it was IRC, then ICQ, then MSN. I didn't know *anyone* with an AIM handle.

    • In the 90's, I asked for AOL.

      What I got was... compuserve.

      I think I've almost forgiven my parents.
    • Strange multiverse then, because in mine it was ICQ.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:16AM (#36165442) Homepage

    I had a 5 digit ICQ number, and was a regular on the Compuserve CB simulator... AIM being old school..... PfffT!

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Your ICQ number was a *postive* integer?!? Hah! Damned kid.

    • Re:N00b.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xystren (522982) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:29AM (#36165650)

      Yeah... It's funny how old school becomes what us old pharts considered new. My old school online presence was a FidoNet address (1:340/17) back in the early eighties. I get tired of people thinking that online presence started when "information superhighway" became mainstream (I hated that term at the time, and still hate it now.)

      Back in the good old days, we thought 300bps was lightening fast and we loved it god dammit!

      Now get the hell off my lawn!

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Along with CompuServe, I don't think I've ever met anyone in real life that also remembers Sierra OnLine (or whatever their online game world was called).

      Red Baron duels, trivia chat rooms, and paintball wars. That's when I met the online world. It was such an innocent time, long before computers became easy enough for pedophiles and lawyers to use.

    • I was a hipster from the 300baud days too. I had text-based compuserve on a c64, watched prodigy go online, tried the first bbs's, and yes, I had a 5 digit ICQ too. I was the first on my block for 386, 486, PII, AMD. I've tasted the birth of just about every major online innovation, and a hell of a lot that failed and nobody even remembers.

      But people I used to consider late coming wanna-be hipsters were using Geocities, haha... so my definition of late-comer is now the definition of old-timer.

      I work with

  • Howsabout "no".

    My "online presence" predates my AIM account by over a decade and a half. The only reason I wound up picking up AIM with Trillian was because one or two of my relatives have AIM accounts.

  • "Everyone"? (Score:3, Informative)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:17AM (#36165454) Homepage Journal

    there was a stretch of time in the 90s and early 00s when AOL was a social requisite. "Everyone had an AIM handle

    Bullshit. I bet the authors thought AOL invented Usenet in Sept. 1993 as well.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Not only that, but there are millions of people, young and old, using Facebook that never heard of AIM.
    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Clck that Account link in slashdot. Note there's a place for an AIM value which is so important you might want to give it to slashdot without making it public...

  • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:17AM (#36165460)

    Nostalgic about AIM are we?

    My god, if I don't put a message in my .plan, people might wonder why I'm out of the office.

    All requests to VMS PHONE will go unanswered.

    --
    BMO

  • by The O Rly Factor (1977536) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:20AM (#36165490)
    AIM was powered by a server and protocol called OSCAR: the Open System for Communication in Realtime. Ironically, this protocol was about as closed and proprietary as you can get, and required reverse engineering over a span of years before AOL released TOC (Talk to Oscar) and TOC2 to developers.

    Didn't Facebook just recently call their datacenter architecture "open" too?...
  • by Inda (580031)
    Only in our day it called ICQ, not AIM.

    GOML.
  • by Kozz (7764) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:22AM (#36165516)

    there was a stretch of time in the 90s and early 00s when AOL was a social requisite. "Everyone had an AIM handle,"

    I think you misspelled "stigma". I was an ICQ user back when they were still just a small Russian outfit and became super-crappy. But I still didn't use AIM because it was associated with AOL, and figured that AIM users should just have a big "L" on their forehead. :)

    Much later, I installed GAIM and then put into it my ICQ, Yahoo! and AIM account (reluctantly signed up). Then GAIM was renamed to something else... then I realized I didn't want or need instant messaging much anymore and uninstalled it.

    These days the only IM I use is Google Talk (via browser) or Skype client. [oblig. get off my lawn]

    • by conner_bw (120497)

      ICQ was not Russian, it was Israeli.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirabilis_(company) [wikipedia.org]

      • by Kozz (7764)

        ICQ was not Russian, it was Israeli.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirabilis_(company) [wikipedia.org]

        I stand corrected. Memory is the first thing to go in old age... at least, I think that's what they say. :P

        Actually, ICQ was pretty cool when they had a fully-searchable directory. A "family" member from Finland found me (in the US). We share an uncommon surname (anyone in the states with the name is closely related to me), and decided we'd treat each other as honorary cousins despite our inability to trace any connections. It was a cool application and made the world a bit smaller.

    • by NevarMore (248971)

      You claim old-school credentials and have the 4-digit UID to back them up. That does not mesh with the email stationery advert your sig.

      Are you one of the rare old-schoolers that is paying the bills by giving shiny things to the noobs?

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:24AM (#36165574)

    Now you got your fancy computers, and your cellphones, and your automobiles. In MY day, if you wanted to socialize, you had to ride your mule to a barn dance. And you had to walk in smelling like a mule and actually *talk* with a bunch of illiterates who also smelled like mules. AND WE WE BETTER FOR IT!

    I'll tell you damned kids the same thing my grandpa once told me: "Now you got your fancy barn dances, and your mules..."

  • In the late 80's before I ever heard of Usenet or Internet I belonged to a dozen social dial-up Bulletin Board Systems (back in the day when we all wanted to be a SySop). When I wasn't in high school I was dailed in with my blazing fast 300 bps acoustic modem.

    I also has a CompuServe membership, which was AOL before there was an AOL.

  • Was /. spamming AIM as well?

    was it /. that caused it to go down?

    http://imgur.com/QDzXE [imgur.com]

  • But AIM wasn't that popular over here in the UK, and I suspect the same situation in most other countries.

    Facebook/Myspace/etc are used much more widely than AIM ever was.
  • For less tech savvy consumers, it was AIM. Most geeks used ICQ and some even remember talk. AIM for us brought too many associations with Eternal September and we avoided those users.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That isn't the point of this article.

    Of course AIM didn't invent messaging. But AIM is what made it accessible to non-geeks.

    I was watching movies on my computer 8 years ago, but Netflix lets my Mom do it. In the same way, I hand an IRQ account in 1992 (which did *not* make me a pioneer) but it wall all computer voodoo to my friends and relatives until AIM arrived in their physical mail a couple years later as part of their AOL cd.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:31AM (#36165686)

    AOLers...and those who ruthlessly teased AOLers. Back then, anyone with a "real" reason to be on the internet had serviceable IT skills (and at least one other account than their home access). AOLers were the drooling masses so to speak. They were a clueless and rare sight, like a coyote darting across the highway on your drive to work and our minds, just as oblivious to disaster.

    But, that era birthed one of my favorite memes:

    </AOL>

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      I had arpanet and HEPNET and then internet access at national laboratory since early 80s, but AOL made a good free backup email, and plus having it myself could get familiar enough with it to help old relatives who wanted to "be online". Even after leaving the lab in the 90s kept the AOL account though netcom was my primary access (remember netscape and having an ix.netcom.com e-mail?)
    • Couldn't agree more. There's a lot more freedom now thanks to open standards, but there's a lot more responsibility too for the average user. There are times that I wish that the closed silos of AOL and CompuServe were still around. I don't remember having to deal with viruses and spam during those times. There was a fair amount of trust and (mis)adventure to be found roaming around the net. Much less finding a connection to the net and getting SLIP to work. If you were lucky and knew the right people you c

  • But it's not in the form of iChat, MSN Messenger, or other proprietary protocols which have muddied the waters of collaboration in order to control a niche of the market.

    Look up XMPP. It's an open standard. It's open source. Google talk uses it. I can chat in windows linux or mac with it. People on other platforms can chat with people on other platforms. It supports group chat. There are open source clients and server software available. It works great. Why use anything else?

  • In the 90s I remember IRC, ICQ and Usenet. I'm kind of a late-comer, as I have a 7-digit ICQ UIN. However, I think most of the fun or destruction came from scrolling chat rooms later on, such as HotelChat.

    I do find it interesting that there are all these nostalgic "back in the day" stories on Slashdot of late. I have a feeling that this completes the passing of the Geek Torch from Gen X to Gen Y.

  • Article is correct (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:33AM (#36165714) Homepage Journal
    Just as I now shun having a facebook account, AIM was what I shunned back in the day.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @09:34AM (#36165740)
    Remember when talking to someone face-to-face was our facebook?

    Yeah, it was much better back then. No constant worrying about our collective statuses and what we did over the weekend that was fun to do in real life. We just got together and did things TOGETHER, in real life.
    Life was much more enriching when you actually looked the person in the eye you were talking to, and had an actual CONVERSATION.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      but for precisely those reasons irc is great and did many wonderful things for me, because you can use it to arrange things like parties.
      a real chat is a real chat and you need real persons to do it. real persons occasionally do real shit though - that's how online interaction can put you into interaction with people you wouldn't otherwise have met or talked to, you don't need to be as careful as about inviting people to your house.

      also you can knife people over the internet but it's EXTREMELY hard, so it's

  • Methinks Gizmodo read too much into this AIM phenomenon than it really was... IRC was around, people didn't use it as it required a lot of manual setup with many clients. However, there was also ICQ, which started BEFORE AIM and was pretty popular also. Within 2 years of launching, Yahoo messenger and MSN messenger was in the fray. So I don't know what microcosm this dude came from, but while AIM was popular, it only had a very short-lived dominance in my mind and I never noticed a culture around it (I n

  • Why is this on /.? For people who thought (like "Good Morning America") that AOL was synonymous with "Internet" it might be appropriate but for the rest of us (and the early adopters of Slashdot) it was IRC and ICQ. We laughed at AOL and most of us tried to get any friends off of it as quickly as possible. Some of us even started local ISPs just so they could actually get onto the Internet. This sort of article might be appropriate for the New Yorker or Wall Street Journal but for Slashdot it's drivel.

    • by dn15 (735502)

      Depends on who you knew, I guess. Nobody I knew actually subscribed to AOL, but everyone used the AOL Instant Messenger service to chat.

    • by Aceticon (140883)

      I remember when AOL joined the Net:
      - Before it was a community of mostly well behaved university students and teachers. Anybody coming into an existing online community (which at the time where mostly Usenet groups and mailing lists) quickly learned to be polite and RTFM/RTFF before asking stupid questions.
      - Afterwards such was the influx of noobs, asshats and generally ignorant people that wouldn't be bothered to RTFM that most online communities ended up swamped and eventually destroyed by the suddenly m

  • Back in the heydays of the mid-nineties, I started hanging out in chat rooms. The quick conversations in those places did what a year of typing classes failed to do - taught me to type without looking at the keyboard. My fingers may not be on the exact keys, and I get thrown off on non-Microsoft standard keyboards (I had to get rid of an HP laptop that had media keys on the left side), but I can type around 70 WPM with a 95% accuracy rate. All thanks to AOL.
  • never used that AIM crap, only e-mail for communication
  • Not sure what he is talking about. I never had an AIM account nor did any of my friends really. ICQ was another story however, everyone and his dog used it. Maybe he is confusing AIM with AOLs purchase of ICQ later on. Then Skype came along, with it's killer feature voice support. Now I am stuck with Skype, but cannot get rid of it. I am trying to use Jabber as much as I can, but it is difficult if not many other contacts use it. Jabber support from Gmail, Facebook and iChat helps somewhat. It is really gre
  • Oh fuck off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @10:23AM (#36166438) Homepage Journal
    Another american-centric, narrow visioned piece, DESPITE there's nothing barring even americans from learning what is, and has happened outside their own country :

    while you were all 'growing up with aim', rest of the world was growing up with ICQ. and i mean, the world. not a mere country.

    i know you americans do not like being disturbed in your self-indulgence and being called out on your self-centeredness, but hey - someone has to do it, so you can integrate with the rest of the WORLD. yeah, you heard right - i said WORLD - there is a whole world out there in which a lot of things happen outside america.
  • by Captain Spam (66120) on Wednesday May 18, 2011 @10:24AM (#36166476) Homepage

    This is pretty well the exact sort of thing I think of whenever anyone tries to convince me that Facebook is the absolute end-all be-all pinnacle of social computing, will never EVER go away or be replaced, has way too much momentum to be stopped or made irrelevant, and is teh EVARYTHING!!!1! about being online. I just think back to how MySpace was exactly as unstoppable. Same with Friendster. Or LiveJournal. Or Geocities. Or MSN Messenger. Or AIM. Or ICQ. Or IRC. Or...

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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