AOL’s instant messaging service, AIM, shut down yesterday for good. The service was open for two whole decades from 1997 through 2017, which is a pretty good shelf life for an internet product. I used it from 1999 through 2008, until Facebook Chat (now Facebook Messenger) debuted, and when text messaging had gained popularity.
AIM stood for “AOL Instant Messenger” and AOL stood for “America Online” which meant that the full title was “America Online Instant Messenger.” A bit awkward perhaps, but AIM was the place to be in the mid-2000s. AIM was the first thing I checked when I got home from school and the last thing I checked before going to sleep.
At first, I used the AOL Desktop client, which was a combination web browser, instant messaging service, and email client. I then migrated to the independent AIM client, which had some features the AOL Desktop client didn’t. Later, I switched to Trillian, which allowed users to use different instant messaging clients in a single app, until I discovered meebo, which had similar features in browser. The last AIM-compatible client I used was Apple iChat (now Apple Messages).
Truthfully, there’s no reason for AIM to stay alive, but it’s hard to not reminisce about the good times I had using it.