Published: Sat, October 07, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

AOL is finally killing off AIM

AOL is finally killing off AIM

AOL Instant Messenger, the chat program that connected a generation to their classmates and crushes while guiding them through the early days of digital socializing, will shut down December 15, its parent company announced Friday.

AOL has been hinting at AIM's discontinuation for some time, even pulling the service from third-party clients this past spring.

AOL said people can download images they sent over the years until December 15th. It introduced the concept of a "buddy list" of frequent communicators and respondents, as well as the Internet's first emoticons, 16 built-in variations of the durable Smiley Face.

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We spent a lot of time on AOL Instant Messenger in those days, so the AIM shutdown is sort of like a sign of the times and how much they change. As a freshman in college, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) became a quick way for me to keep in contact with friends across campus, setup study groups or just chat for hours on end.

AIM debuted as part of the America Online desktop internet service, but launched as a standalone offering for Windows in 1997, introducing many of us to the joys of internet chat for the first time.

AIM's prospects weren't helped by the arrival of me-too chat apps like Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft msft MSN Messenger either. But a day after that news broke, AOL issued a hopeful statement: "We are not killing instant messenger".

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The AIM client was never popular outside the U.S., and it didn't age too well either.

The ironic thing there is that many AIM devotees saw its existence outside of corporate IT as a huge benefit, not a flaw.

But millions of those AIM users never paid AOL a dime, which probably did not endear AIM to its corporate overlords.

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"From setting the ideal away message to that familiar ring of an incoming chat, AIM will always have a special place in our hearts", AOL wrote to users in the email.

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