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Goodbye AIM

After twenty years, AIM is slamming the door for good.

by Jayne Helfrick — Posted on October 13th, 2017


If those sound effects didn’t make you feel nostalgic, I don’t know what will.

After twenty years, AIM is slamming the door for good.

While it was not the first instant messenger, it certainly transformed the way that most of us communicate. And, while AIM seemed to experience overnight stardom as soon as it was released back in 1997, if it were up to AOL, we’d probably have never even seen it.

So why was AIM such an instant hit? It provided the technology the world was ready for at just the right time, and it offered the freedom of self-expression to an entire generation.

When I got my first cell phone back in the early 2000s, I was allotted a strict 100 texts per month. How was a girl supposed to survive? Luckily there was AIM – where one could go while doing their homework to take part in some really intellectual conversations (Sup? NM u?! NM!) or vent about their day. AIM saved the day again and again. I would come home from school, dial-up, and log in to chat with the friends I’d just left. Every time I heard the door creak open, I’d look to see who else had joined us.

AIM didn’t just provide teenagers with a way to instantly connect with friends before the days of unlimited texts, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat though; it also gave working professionals a whole new way to collaborate.

And while there’s no denying that AIM’s popularity has run its course, it’s leading role in the instant messaging revolution is clear. Let's reminisce about AIM's most defining features:

Buddy Lists

Did you separate guys and gals or did you follow a more strictly tiered approach to your buddies, separating your BFFs from your work friends and family members? All of this was possible because of Patent US 6750881. With the birth of the buddy list, users could see when their friends signed on and off, and interact with them in real-time.

Today, plenty of companies are using this same type of technology to keep you in touch. Sign into Facebook and you can see every friend that’s online. And if you’re not already logged into the app, Facebook and Instagram will even send you notifications when a friend starts a live video you might want to view.

Away Messages

Let your colleagues know you’re in a business meeting and won’t be able to respond or share your innermost feelings by posting some lyrics. Regardless of the actual content of your away messages, they allowed you to inform your buddies that you were currently unavailable to chat but would respond if they left some love while you were away.

In today’s world where most of us are always connected, this type of tool is critical. Luckily, iPhones allow us to turn our phones to “Do Not Disturb” and Slack lets us customize our status to let our colleagues know where we are, what we’re working on, and even how busy our week looks.

AIM Profiles

AIM profiles were almost like a mini landing page. Users could change the background color, experiment with fonts, and even use plugins to extend the length and functionality of their profile. Whether you listed your best friends, placed a strategic shout out to your latest boo or included some cryptic lyrics, your AIM profile was the place to express yourself. In a way, it was one of the first places where you could build a personal brand online.

These days, any website or social platform you sign up for allows you to create your very own profile. It's a quick, simple way for others to learn more about you and these profiles often lead to new connections.

And plenty more…

AIM offered voice chat before Skype, file transfers, and chatbots to keep us entertained long before customer service departments started using them to interact with consumers. The engineers behind AIM were certainly pushing boundaries, but unfortunately, the technology just couldn’t keep up.

Most of us abandoned AIM quite a while ago. Now, it’s simply time to say a final goodbye.

So, for the last time, this is Jaynifer3798 signing off. TTYL!