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When AIM Was Our Facebook

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

America Online 395

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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yea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165426)

my aim hurts my boats foot

Strange (5, Insightful)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165428)

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

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165498)

Huh? What's AOL? IRC still - not just 90's

Re:Strange (4, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165780)

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. .


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.

Re:Strange (1)

RJHelms (1554807) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165862)

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:Strange (3, Insightful)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165942)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36166004)

You're too your to be involved in this conversation. Get off my lawn.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165944)

Same in Finland, MSN Messenger pretty much dominated in the 2000's. In the early 2000 there was some use of ICQ, but not much. Then there was our local Facebook kind of thing, irc-galleria, and you could pretty much find every teen there. IRC itself was never really used by normal people, mostly geeks or gamers. MSN Messenger is still used a lot, but most of the people also use Facebook. Some even use Facebook only.

And nobody used AIM.

On the other hand, ICQ is still really popular in Russia and ex-USSR countries. They have their own version of Facebook too, vkontakte.

Re:Strange (3, Insightful)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165988)

I can confirm that ICQ was at first more popular than MSN Messenger. I used Yahoo messenger as well for a while, never AIM as this was more for AOL-users. I remember back then there would be auto-kick/bans on certain popular IRC channels for *!*@*.aol.com. AOL was lame. About as lame as using Microsoft Chat to get on IRC.

Re:Strange (3, Interesting)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Strange (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165946)

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 90% of my time online (scripting, servers, info, running help-rooms, ..)

AIM usually Americans (I had it installed for a few American contacts)

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165558)

In the earliest days of the internet maybe, but from 1996 it was ICQ. AIM was mostly only used in the AOLland (USA) and therein only by a certain kind of people. ICQ was the big one, seconded by Yahoo and AIM until MSN Messenger took over. What do people use know? It seems people have gone off instant messaging in favour of phone txts and Facebook.

Re:Strange (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165986)

What do people use know?

Trillian, though regular folks just use Yahoo, Facebook, Google, or MSN individually

Re:Strange (1)

Torvac (691504) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165578)

exactly. and we called people who did "/me " attention whores. today its called twitter.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165582)

I think he's speaking more about the general public, otherwise he's skipped over alot more than just IRC.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165594)

IRC servers would have died horrible deaths if everyone using AIM/etc back then logged into IRC. Normal people didn't use it.

Re:Strange (3, Interesting)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

IRC and AIM (1)

traindirector (1001483) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165648)

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)--posting anything to Facebook, even a "private message", feels like filing every word into the eternal register.

Re:Strange (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165674)

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 :)

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165766)

I started with a 300 baud modem, but I knew the difference between baud and bps.

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165734)

And yet, in 2011, it's still what I use.

Re:Strange (4, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Strange (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165770)

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 something about computers. Now grannies running unpatched XP are all over facebook.

I make a living due to ecommerce, but I still miss the old days when using a computer was a bit more difficult.

Re:Strange (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165804)

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?

Re:Strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165922)

Absolutely not, OP is the solipsistic type of geek who thinks that he/she is the perfect representative of everyone else.

At my college (late 90s/early 2000s) absolutely everybody had AIM. The only people who hung out on an IRC server (that they also ran) -- the Linux Users Group (of which I was a member).

Re:Strange (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165806)

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" used.

AIM was the first messenger that was used by a significant number of "normal" people. It's like talking about the iPod as revolutionizing MP3 players: It wasn't the first by a long shot, but it was the first to be used by a large enough segment of the population to be relevant to the general public.

Re:Strange (4, Informative)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Strange (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165948)

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.

What I remember from IRC (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165984)

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.

Re:Strange (2)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#36166010)

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.

N00b.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165442)

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

Re:N00b.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165482)

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

Agree, was on ICQ way before AIM!

Re:N00b.... (2)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165706)

Like they said, "Stretch of time". The article nailed my specific 'sub generation'.

I had IRC, but not everyone knew how to get onto it. I used ICQ, but there weren't a ton of people on it.
MSN and AIM were competing back to back. I had friends in one school district that were on MSN and AIM in another, so I used both.
I also used.

It was around 99-00 that AIM started to take dominance among my friends. When I went to college in the Fall of 2001 someone posted a signup sheet in the hall way with AIM screen names. There was no Facebook, some people wrote on whiteboards, most just left AIM messages. Statuses were almost no different than what Facebook status are today, although more to the point of what you were actually doing. "Out to lunch, join us" "Class" "Running", etc. AIM profiles were served from your computer. You really couldn't data mine them and they were also limited in size. The article nails that aspect too. This was also before AIM would let you sign in from multiple locations, so I had my username, and username_laptop for when I was out and about.

Just because you weren't nostalgic for this era, doesn't mean there isn't a chunk of 24-34ish year olds that aren't. And when Facebook declines I'll chuckle to myself when I'm in my 40s and those 30 year olds couldn't imagine life without Facebook.

*There were even "AIM Trackers", since most AIM clients would replace %n with screen names. But they were all too heavy so I wrote my own. It's how I learned MySQL/PHP. I had a 'private' version working for a while but decided to make it generic and let anyone sign up. I finally got http://aim.exstatic.org/ [exstatic.org] right as AIM seemed to die.

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

xystren (522982) | more than 2 years ago | (#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!

AIM? Me too? (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165446)

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.

why? (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165448)

Overintellectualization is a disease. Relax on the deeper meaning, folks, and enjoy life.

Re:why? (5, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165756)

While something as ordinary as being on AIM might at first appear trivial(and indeed might well be), things like this can have subtle but profound effects on society at large.

The best examples of this come from around the turn of the last century. Various mechanical and electrical devices changed people's lives in small but significant ways, for example, the lightbulb(or gas lamp), and the sewing machine.

In the last ten years, the mass uptake of the Internet is certainly a socially and culturally significant invention; and--shallow as they are--services like AIM played a part in familiarising people with, and forming their expectations of, this new medium.

Personally, I think contrasting AIM and Facebook is important as AIM was a more straightforward, simple application. Its simplicity allowed it to be widely used, but also encouraged people to explore other parts of the web as it matured. Facebook by contrast is an all singing, all dancing Walled Garden, whose stated objective is to keep people on its site, and its site alone, for as long as possible.

Thus, the experiences of new internet users now are profoundly different to those of new users even 10 years ago. Todays internet is less like a multi-way chatroom where you choose the topic of the conversation, and more like a one way television channel, where you can happen to post the odd message in your own little sandboxed corner.

There is a deeper shift going on in the web, and while they may not seem useful to engineering mind, only "intellectuals" of the philosophical and sociological variety are equipped to understand, analyse and explain this shift and its implications. If there are any of course.

And like a rockstar, it fell hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165452)

So, now that Facebook is the new AIM... how long before the next thing makes Facebook the old AIM? And what fears should those that actually use the damn thing have when all that personal information breaks into the open like a New Orleans dam?

"Everyone"? (3, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165454)

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.

Re:"Everyone"? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165850)

Not only that, but there are millions of people, young and old, using Facebook that never heard of AIM.

Slow news day? (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.


Oh Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165468)

Now we get to hear a bunch of repeated "jokes" about AOL. (AOL still exists?, queue up 10 jokes about the CDs and floppies they mailed out, etc.)

For you people who once had a billing problem with AOL 10 years ago? Get over it.

AIM also used an "open" standard...sound familiar? (4, Informative)

The O Rly Factor (1977536) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?...

Re:AIM also used an "open" standard...sound famili (1)

hviniciusg (1481907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165796)

Facebook uses for its messaging interconnection, the XMPP protocol, witch is specified by RFC 3920 and RFC 3921.
so i guess its pretty open

ICQ was better (1)

torgis (840592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165492)

"AIM was the first time that it felt like we had presences online"

Ah, no, I'd have to say it was IRC for anyone with any amount of computer savvy that grew up in the 90's. And if you wanted a "fancy" dockable IM client that supported offline message sending, then it was ICQ from about 1996 onwards. In fact, the "send to offline contact" feature of ICQ was great and AIM didn't support it for years afterwards. Not to mention that the first AIM clients were poorly written, buggy, and were vulnerable to all manner of exploits. ICQ was, at first, superior to AIM in every way.

Re:ICQ was better (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165636)

Yeah, even into the late 90's among everyone I knew in high school and college it was ICQ. AIM didn't really replace it until around 1999/2000.

Got my AIM ID from Apple... (1, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165494)

I first got on the net around 1982, and I never had an AIM ID until Apple cut a deal with AOL to share logins for iChat.

I'm nostalgic for FIDO and USENET.


Re:Got my AIM ID from Apple... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165992)

Nostalgic for Usenet? Why? Did they turn it off?

Damn! I was just on it half an hour ago.

Social requisite?? (2)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#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]

Umm, not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165524)

About 1/4 of the people I knew had an AIM account, about equal to those who used ICQ. Hotmail/MSN was the dominant force in the UK

Snobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165534)

Who couldn't see the slash snobs ripping this apart? This is typical of any site, people are rude and feel they have to rip everyone apart.


Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165546)

IRC was and still is my main communication method.

I was in ICQ via a game I played in internet (utopia).
MSN was my communicating software that I used with casual people that didn't know or hang in IRC all the time :)

I may be an old fart... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165550)

But I remember when AIM was a Bukakke site.

MSN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165562)

Everyone I knew who was online used msn messenger. I never knew a single person who used AIM.

Maybe it's a generational or geographical difference?
For comparison, I grew up in Atlantic Canada and graduated from high school in 2005.

Re:MSN (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165726)

Same thing here, here in Quebec I don't know anyone who ever had AIM. On the other hand, 99% of my friends are still using MSN. And friends on other networks are never online.


You spoiled kids! (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#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..."

BBS? CompuServe? (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165584)

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.

Re:BBS? CompuServe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165758)

Naw. Q-Link (Quantum Link) was AOL before AOL. Because it WAS AOL before the name change and the switch to GeoWorks on IBM-PCs.

Fun times, what with the shareware, freeware, and modules for Unlimited Adventures and ZZT. Went downhill, but hey, fun in the early days.

Re:BBS? CompuServe? (1)

Sectoid_Dev (232963) | more than 2 years ago | (#36166000)

Ahh the early days of Q-Link on a 9600 baud modem. I remember giddly swapping porn pics and thinking it was so cool because I wasn't getting busted by the FBI or anything. It seems so harmless and naive now, but back then being 19 it was exciting times. I think Q-Link knew what their users were doing, but were happy to to ignore it since they were charging by the minute.

Maybe in the US (1)

Mouldy (1322581) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165646)

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.

Not for geeks (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165654)

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.

Re:Not for geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165802)

ytalk FTW :-)

AIM was awesome in it's time (1)

CPTreese (2114124) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165658)

I remember when I first started using AIM I made my first international friend. She was from Scotland and 20 years later I still remember her handle. We lost touch and I've often wished that I could somehow find her again.

I still remember our first conversation. We both thought each others' accent was hilarious.

Yes Yes, we know you were on IRQ (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165666)

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.

Back when there were 2 types of netizens (2, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:


Re:Back when there were 2 types of netizens (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36166012)

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?)

Simple and ubiquitous - it's still there (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165704)

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?

Re:Simple and ubiquitous - it's still there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165838)

Sounds like a bunch of jabber to me.

I once got banned from #EFNET (1)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165712)

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 (4, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165714)

Just as I now shun having a facebook account, AIM was what I shunned back in the day.

finger / talk / who / wall, not AIM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165728)

Subject says it all. The community was the server. Academics, we daisy chained logins to meet on servers in different physical institutions...

longevity (1)

newtype hack (2159512) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165738)

It's surprising to me that a lot of IM clients are still around with the prevalence of texting. On top of that, most phones now have constant connectivity to things like facebook so people are almost never out of touch. Despite all this I regularly see people using AIM (albeit through other clients like trillian and digsby) or MSN (again through other clients). As a youngin' in these parts I do remember using AOL 8 where screen names and chatrooms were cool and that's where we'd all go to talk about Toonami or setup games of starcraft.

Remember when talking to someone face-to-face (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Remember when talking to someone face-to-face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165848)

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... face to face conversation. And I bet you talked; up-hill - BOTH WAYS - IN THE SNOW!

Did you wear an onion on your belt too?

Cokes were a nickel too, weren't they? You turned in some bottles, got two bits, took the money and went to the picture show with your best girl, got some popcorn, sodas and HAD CHANGE LEFT OVER!

During the movie, you held hands and maybe - just maybe- you KISSED HER!

Yep, heard it all before pops.

Re:Remember when talking to someone face-to-face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36165962)

Why can't you have an online life AND and offline life. They're not mutually exclusive you know.

I know I'm not typical.... (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165762)

I'm not typical, but I still have an AIM account as well as Yahoo IM and Gtalk. I use Yahoo IM a lot. The thing is that they're almost completely interchangeable and the only reason to have one account over another is where your friends are. I'm not sure why the article is focusing on AIM. AIM might not be a well used IM service anymore, but IM is still relevant. What's really changed? Did anyone really care whether it was AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google running the IM service?This is false nostalgia.

AIM wasn't ever THAT big of a deal (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165776)

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 noticed one around the ICQ world more than AIM).

That being said I still have my AIM handle - it is used in my GTalk pane in GMail. I talk to one person with it, sometimes, thinking of just ditching it and staying with GTalk.

ICQ (1)

indecks (1208854) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165782)

I used ICQ back in 97 or 98 as my first IM proggie. It was pretty neat, and I remember the "uh oh!" sound when getting a message - before it got old and I turned it off.

I also remember the 'A Current Affair' sound effect when someone asked to be your friend, or whatever. I still even remember my old ICQ number, lol.

I eventually moved to AIM because it was what 'everyone' used. And by 'everyone' I just mean the average computer user/porn surfer. I discovered IRC in probably 2000 because of DALNet, and all of the Dragon Ball Z episodes you could download from there in "HIGH QUALITY!!!!" lol.

Good times.

Maybe for people who thought AOL was the Internet (4, Insightful)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165868)

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.

I learned to touch type in an AOL chatroom (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#36165882)

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.
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