AOL has announced that AIM, its Instant Messenger platform, will cease to exist in December 2017. Despite the disappearance of AOL chatrooms and the imminent demise of AOL’s Instant Messenger or IM platform, I still find that those 1990s means of communication held their own to today’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or the like (and I have them all).
People rushed home from work beginning in the mid-1990s to dial up AOL and then try to squeeze into a chatroom limited to 23 people. Gaining entry was a challenge and sometimes took up to an hour with so many others competing to get in! And, for several years, AOL was very expensive and many people jeopardized their savings as a result of an almost obsessive need to be online.
Many of us developed friendships during those years in AOL chatrooms that endure to this day. Instant Messaging or IMing came later (and AIM as a separate application came even later still) and, once it emerged, people often found themselves trying to keep up with the scrolling chatroom dialogue while simultaneously engrossed in one, two or more IMs! For women the challenge of balancing chatrooms and IMs was even greater than that encountered by men.
RIP, AOL Instant Messenger.