AIM, AOL’s hugely popular instant messenger service that was a coming-of-age internet experience for many in the late 1990s and early 2000s, will officially shut down on Dec. 15.
In a statement on the decision, the company says, “AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed. As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM.”
AIM and its signature yellow running man launched in 1997 and was one of the first widely used free chat services. “Instant messages allow communication that is faster than e-mail but more personal than a chat room,” a USA Todaypiece from 1999 marveled. AIM fought for users against competitors like MSN Messenger, which shut down in 2014, and Yahoo Instant Messenger, which discontinued service in 2016 but later revamped with the same name. Over the past decade, though, AIM has experienced upheavals, from the major cuts in its staff in 2012 to Verizon’s $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in 2015. And with texting, Gchat, Facebook, and others stepping in as the primary forms of communication for the AIM generation and beyond, it’s no surprise that these instant messaging services are closing shop.