AOL Instant Messenger, the chat feature introduced by the then-dial-up ISP in the mid-1990s, is set to end its once-pioneering run on Dec. 15.
Verizon acquired AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015. Its Oath media subsidiary now oversees AOL it and confirmed the move, saying the service “will always have a special place in our hearts.” The unwinding of AIM follows similar fade-outs for messenger apps from once-mighty internet gateways Yahoo and MSN. With the ubiquity of unlimited smartphone texting, social media and tools like Facebook Messenger, the need for AIM and its peers has significantly diminished.
In its day, AOL’s platform was wildly popular, surging from 13 million users in 1997 to 65.5 million users in 2000. Its format, with screen names, away messages and buddy lists created a sub-vernacular as the internet was rocketing to prominence in all corners of society and culture.
Common shorthand and acronyms like LOL are said to have originated on AIM.
As logical as its demise might be, the news still stirred nostalgic wistfulness among web users of a certain age all across social media. Even the typically buttoned-up Twitter handle of the New York Times got into the spirit: “I’d tweet more,” it explained, “but my parents need the computer. g2g bye.”