AOL Instant Messenger, also known as AIM, just received it’s final date of operation. It’s about to die, gone, dead forever. And I’ll bet you didn’t even know it still existed. Or if you were born after 1995, you might never have known it existed in the first place. AIM was a key element in the evolution of the internet, from a series of pages in stasis to a live communication tool through which we still (and forevermore) connect one end of the world to the other.
“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed.” said Michael Albers, VP of Communications Product at Oath. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM.” You’ll notice the apps have disappeared from their respective app stores already on this very sad day.
The brand Oath is a Verizon company, a subsidiary that handles content sub-division companies like AOL and Yahoo! as well as TechCrunch, Huffington Post, Tumblr, and Engadget. Before it was part of Oath, under Verizon, AOL created the most pervasive element of its brand – more than sending CDs to homes to offer so many hours of free internet, more important than the phrase “You’ve Got Mail.”
AOL’s Instant Messenger was the shock to the internet that eventually spawned non-text-message instant communication between people on the internet. Before there was Snapchat, before Instagram or Facebook, there was AIM. It’s first appearance was in the mid-90s, when it was tied directly to America Online, AOL, the desktop app. Shortly after initial release, AOL Instant Messenger was released as a stand-alone app for Windows.
That was 1997 when its first app was released, first using a standard protocol to communicate called Open System for CommunicAtion in Realtime (OSCAR). In 2008 the service began using Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP), then in 2011 AOL started offering limited support for the protocol. As of March 28th, 2017, XMPP for AOL was ended, and the real end for the app and its services was at hand.
As of December 15th, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) will be discontinued. No more instant messages will be sent or received through the service from that point forward. All previous software will be rendered completely useless. It’ll truly be the end of an era.