AOL Instant Messenger, AIM, Gone Forever

Holly Kellum
By Holly Kellum
December 15, 2017USshare
AOL Instant Messenger, AIM, Gone Forever
An AOL instant messenger logo on a desktop on June 4, 2006. ("AOL Instant Messenger" by Brendan Dolan-Gavitt/Flickr [CC BY-SA-2.0 (])

AOL laid to rest its instant messaging service Friday, Dec. 15, some 20 years after it started.

While the shutdown is new, the news is not. Back in October, Oath, the company that owns Yahoo and AOL, announced the service’s planned demise.

“We know there are so many loyal fans who have used AIM for decades; and we loved working and building the first chat app of its kind since 1997,” the company said in its Q&A on the planned shutdown. “Our focus will always be on providing the kind of innovative experiences consumers want. We’re more excited than ever to focus on building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.”

For people who grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s, the chat service was something like a first cell phone. Not only could you communicate directly with people without worrying about tying up the phone line (dial-up was another issue back then though), but they could do it in privacy—and it was instant like a cell phone.

Playing with backgrounds, away messages, and usernames gave people—especially egotistic teenagers—the opportunity to create an online personality (let’s face it, there was only so much you could do with email signatures at that time), that arguably primed users for Facebook and its kin.

And the acronyms that seem to be a child of the platform have entered the English lexicon—just try looking up “BRB” and “LOL” in Merriam-Webster.

But as AIM users gravitated to other platforms, AIM went into the same dustbin as Yahoo email accounts and Myspace. A case in point: Oath announced AIM’s planned demise on Twitter.

Given the place that AIM had in many people’s childhoods (and yes, even some adulthoods) and how steep the valley of its decline has become, it should be no surprise that people reacted with a mixture of sadness, humor, and nostalgia for the lost service. Here are a few reactions from the twitterverse.

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