If you are a millennial, you probably remember some of the earliest messaging programs from the mid-to-late 1990s. While some of the earliest messaging programs still exist today, the vast majority of the messaging pioneers are long gone and nothing but a memory from a different time.
Still, it is important to pay tribute to the apps that started it all. Here are 5 messaging programs that greatly influenced the many modern messenger applications of today.
ICQ was originally launched in 1996 by Mirabillis. It is the godfather of messaging programs as it was one of the first ones that was easy to use and that was made publicly available.
While it was an eyesore, it was an incredible feat for 1996 and it allowed people from all over the world to communicate in new ways.
The early success of ICQ also encouraged several other companies to develop chat programs that still exist today.
2. AOL Instant Messenger
AOL used to be the king of the Internet in the 1990s. The company still exists today as a division of Verizon Communications, but AOL’s time has long passed.
Still, for many millennials, 1997 was a special year. AIM will always have a special place in their hearts because it was extremely functional, allowed users to upload images, make use of emoticons and other strange clip art, and engage in largescale chatrooms. Even crazier, primitive versions of chatbots existed on AIM and provided a brief glimpse of what the future of chatbots held.
Plus, it also had some of the most memorable notification sounds like the creaky door sound when one of your friends signed on.
3. Yahoo Messenger
Long before Google rose up and won the war of the search engines, Yahoo was considered one of the best search engines on the Internet. In 1998, Yahoo officially launched Yahoo Messenger.
In the 1990s, most Internet users searched on Yahoo, had a Yahoo email, and used Yahoo Messenger. Like AIM, Yahoo was very functional in design and featured largescale chatrooms.
4. MSN Messenger
By 1999, MSN had its own answer to AIM and Yahoo Messenger. Microsoft officially released MSN in order to compete with its tech rivals. Like the other major chat programs, MSN offered the same functionality, a sleek design, Hotmail compatibility.
By this point, the big three all offered many of the same features and most users generally picked the chat program that associated with their primary email.
MSN Messenger would later rebrand itself as Windows Live Messenger in 2005.
Skype definitely wasn’t a child of the 1990s, seeing as it was released in 2003. There were also several other chat programs that were released before Skype, but Skype made this list because it completely changed the game when it came out.
Skype, before Microsoft ruined it, was an amazing chat program that allowed users to talk to their friends via text, voice, or video, it was responsive, allowed an individual to share files, and it wasn’t overly intrusive. Skype also supported chatbots and greatly advanced the technology by showing that they could handle sophisticated conversations and provide a helpful service.