×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AOL Is Shutting Down AIM in December

It’s the end of an era: Verizon-owned AOL announced on Friday that it will shut down its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service, which has been in operation for 20 years,  in December.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” wrote Oath VP of communications product Michael Albers in a Tumblr post. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017.”

Separately, AOL informed current and past AIM users via email that they will be able to use the service until the shut-down date. After that, all of their data, including their buddy lists, will be deleted. AIM.com email addresses won’t be affected, as they’re effectively just aliases for AOL mail.

AOL had long offered instant messaging within its own online client, but launched a standalone app for AIM in May of 1997. The app competed at the time with various other instant messaging services, including ICQ and Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, but quickly became the most popular messaging app in the U.S.

Some of the features that contributed to its popularity was a buddy list that could be organized to keep track of dozens, if not hundreds of contacts, a profile page and an away status message. In many ways, the latter two preceded many of today’s social networks.

AIM was also popular with users because of the existence of countless of third-party clients, many of which offered some additional functionality, or aimed to merge multiple chat and messaging services in one app. In 2000, a startup even tried to piggyback on AIM to launch a file sharing service dubbed AIMster, which billed itself as a Napster replacement. However, AIMster was quickly sued by the recording industry, and eventually shut down in 2002.

AIM was also one of the first platform for bots, which could be used to access news, play text-based games and more — an idea that was reborn in recent years for messaging on Facebook and elsewhere.

But AIM may be been best known for its iconic running man, which was first introduced as the service’s logo in 1997 and eventually even made it into AOL TV ads. Fittingly, Albers titled the shut-down announcement “Our yellow running man is ready to retire.”

More Digital

  • The Frontier

    Conecta Fiction: Project Pitches Prizes Passed Out in Pamplona

    On Wednesday evening the Spanish city of Pamplona was overrun, not by bulls, but by hopeful TV creators who had spent the early week pitching their projects at Conecta Fiction, and who anxiously waited to find out the titles which would take home silverware. Meanwhile, “Monzón,” a Disney-Pampa-Incaa production portraying the tragic violence of Argentine [...]

  • YouTube logo

    Why Splitting Up YouTube Is a Terrible Idea

    Facing mounting pressure over failures to protect children from inappropriate content, Google is reportedly considering a number of changes to its video sharing site YouTube. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that one of the ideas circulated internally was to effectively split up YouTube, and spin out all children’s content into the existing YouTube Kids [...]

  • Niantic's Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Game

    ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ to Launch This Week

    “Pokemon Go” maker Niantic is getting ready to launch its next big game: “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is set to launch in June 21, the company revealed in a tweet this week. The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information [...]

  • google podcast creator program

    Google, PRX Unveil Second Slate of Their Podcasts Creator Program (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roughly a year after first unveiling its podcasts creator program, Google is renewing its commitment to train budding podcasters. Together with public radio and podcast distributor PRX, Google has chosen 6 podcasters from around the world to participate in the next round of the creator program. The podcasts included in the second cohort are “37 [...]

  • Camila Cabello

    Camila Cabello Reveals Podcast Obsessions, Teases New Album at Cannes Lions

    Camila Cabello was the featured speaker at a Tuesday afternoon panel at Cannes Lions, the annual gathering of marketing, design and entertainment professionals in the south of France. Joined by Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, the talk, moderated by Variety editor Shirley Halperin, was centered around the theme of the golden age of sound [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Quibi Has Already Booked $100 Million in Ad Sales, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Say

    Quibi, the ambitious short-form video venture from Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory with six advertisers ahead of its April 2020 debut. Advertisers that have committed ad spending to Quibi include Google, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev, according to the company. The $100 [...]

  • China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact

    China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact With Malaysia's Astro

    Astro Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading pay-TV operator, has struck a strategic agreement with Chinese streaming platform iQIYI. Astro obtains the exclusive rights to deliver iQIYI content on TV, on-demand and via OTT in Malaysia. It will launch the first iQIYI-branded channel comprising iQIYI’s extensive slate of original content from drama to variety shows and movies. Astro [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content