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The Life Cycle of IM/Chat

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. Can you imagine what life would be like without IM or text messaging? These forms of communication have helped to simplify our lives. Kids no longer have to hear their moms screaming their names, as an indication it is time to come home. They simply are sent a text. You can keep in contact with friends or family that live in other parts of the state, another state or even another country just like if they were sitting in the same room just by IMing or Skyping. But this isn’t a completely new thing we are dealing with. There was a start…many years ago – the baby steps that led to this wonderful simplification of communication.


I’m going to try to get it all…


1961 – The Computation Center of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) allowed 30 users to log in and send messages to one another at the same time.

1965 – Hundreds of registered user accounts (close to what we envision email to be) from MIT and other New England colleges existed

1970s – Peer-to-peer communication was established between universities and research labs

1980s – MIT created Zephyr Notification Service. Unix was used to locate and send messages to users. MIT still uses this service


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1980 – CompuServe’s CB Simulator replicated citizens band radio through text-based messages and user handles – considered to be the first online chat

1982 – The Commodore 64 PC was released which included internet service, Quantum Link (which later became AOL). The Internet service was fee based and used a modem

1996 – an Israeli company launched ICQ, the first widespread market of text-based messaging to online users. It allowed users to chat, share files and more.

1997 – AOL launched AIM (remember the ever familiar sounds of opening and closing doors? Or you Buddy List?) allowing users to send messages to one another, it also included “away” messages and icons

1998 – ICQ was acquired by AOL (was sold to Digital Sky Technologies in 2010) and Yahoo launched Yahoo! Messenger (original name was Yahoo! Pager). Yahoo! Messenger was a little more advanced than AIM as it allowed users to customize their “IMVironments,” create custom status messages and integrate their address book. It also had a chat room

1999 – Microsoft releases MSN Messenger (renamed in 2005 as Windows Live Messenger) showed when contacts were online.

2000 – acted as a single gateway for users of the multiple big networks. They are considered to be the original IM service based on Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (in August 2012 Jabber disabled new registrations due to abuse)

2002 – Apple develops iChat (in 2011 iMessage was announced. In 2012 both iChat and iMessage was replaced with Messages)

2003 – Skype enters the scene adding video and voice to instant messaging

2005 – AIM reaches 53 million users. Meebo, an instant messaging service supported Yahoo! Messenger , Windows Live Messenger, AIM, ICQ and later MySpaceIM, Facebook Chat, Google Talk and others. They also developed mobile versions for Androids and iPhones. Google Talk (or Google Chat) was also released in web, native and mobile applications.

2006 – MySpace developed MySpaceIM as an addition to their social site. They were the pioneers.

2008 – Facebook Chat is released

2011 – Skype integrates with Facebook to provide video in Chat. A mobile app is also released, Facebook Messenger.2009 – Windows Live Messenger had over 330 million active, monthly users


Now having seen the run down of how we got to this point, where could it go from here? The Internet and all that it allows people to do can never remain stagnant. There has to be something else…right?

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