If you grew up using the internet in the 1990s or the early 2000s, then you likely became familiar with the instant messaging service offered by America Online, which later became its own instant messaging platform for millions of people around the internet known simply as AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM. Maybe you have moved on from the service over the years as Facebook and Twitter and Skype have elevated themselves in the same space and you have abandoned the AOL internet service and your old AOL screen name and email for other services, but today it was announced that AIM is officially going to be discontinued later this year.
— AIM (@aim) October 6, 2017
If you are too young to remember the greatness of AIM, then you would truly take the groundbreaking features it presented for granted today. Before Facebook and Twitter, AIM gave internet users an easy way to communicate directly with others over the internet that was faster than email. Other chat platforms existed, of course, but AOL made it simpler and cleaner to use and packed in a good number of features that would eventually become standards for other chat clients over the years.
Being able to group your friends into various groups was handy as you could tell who among your real life friends, family, co-workers and schoolmates were online at any time (unless they were set to be online in private mode, of course, which came in handy if you wanted to avoid a particular person). You could also group any online contacts you had from those AOL chat rooms. It was a fantastic feature at the time when AOL was the king of the electronic superhighway. Now we take so many of the features that made AIM great for granted.
AIM was the first time many of us discovered the away message, and quickly realized we could troll others essentially subtweeting them in our away messages, or in our profiles. Ahh yes, the profiles, where college and high school students shared their favorite song lyrics, or favorite memories from the semester, or maybe posted their schedule. Or maybe you posted an ASCII version of the American flag. You know you did at least one of these things if you were using AIM at around the turn of the century. The away message was essentially an early version of the tweet in that we could use it to relay any message we wanted to those who were following or friends with us.
So long AIM. We had some good fun back in the day. Enjoy your developmental retirement and thanks for the memories.