AOL Instant Messenger To Shut Down After Two Decades

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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AOL’s highly memorable and long-running instant messaging service AIM is shutting down after 20 years.

The former company, which is now simply a web portal, announced the decision Friday in a notice cleverly titled, “One Last Away Message,” an emotional reference to one of the most oft-used features of the platform.

“If you were a 90’s kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life. You likely remember the CD, your first screenname, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists,” Michael Albers, the vice president of communications product at Oath, wrote Friday on Tumblr. He added: 

Right now you might be reminiscing about how you had to compete for time on the home computer in order to chat with friends outside of school. You might also remember how characters throughout pop culture from “You’ve Got Mail” to “Sex and the City” used AIM to help navigate their relationships. In the late 1990’s, the world had never seen anything like it. And it captivated all of us.

Anyone who fully experienced the wonders of AIM — which now seem like rudimentary features in a world filled with artificial intelligence and augmented reality — can surely attest to AOL’s nostalgic adieu.

AIM was the primary source of communication for not only teenagers and adolescents, but pretty much anyone who wanted an alternative to snail mail or the still then-relatively nascent email. It came before the complete advent and full embrace of cell phones and seemed like it would play a vital role in our every day lives for years to come, much like fax machines. But now it is no more.

While it presumably hasn’t been widely used for quite some time, it will still always have a place in the hearts of twenty and thirty-something year-olds.

And AOL is quite aware.

“Thank you to all of our AIM users,” its ostensible farewell concluded. “And definitely stay tuned as we’re fired up to provide more products and experiences that people around the world love.”

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