Happy 20th birthday, ICQ!


Uh-oh! It’s 20 years to a day given a introduction of one of a internet’s many well-remembered discuss apps: ICQ.

It was flattering barebones in a initial form, expelled by a Israeli tyro creators in Nov 1996, yet over a subsequent year had versions accessible for Windows 95, 3.1 (not everybody wanted to upgrade) and Macs (presumably System 7).

Remember this noise?


The online discuss universe was a easier one during a time, during slightest in terms of a marketplace and record used. ICQ was elementary and unencrypted, and each user was reserved a series — 6 digits during first, some-more after — for palliate of operation.

whatis_liteYou could summary anyone whose series we had, and we could accumulate them by satisfactory means or foul, on IRC, BBS or AOL — or during school, of course, a approach you’d sell phone numbers. At first, hit lists and other info were even kept client-side, creation it an early success of peer-to-peer as good as messaging. And a comparatively open design meant it could be cloned and forked.

Who can forget a small standing icons, a clarity of find and independence, a possibilities of a height like this? It was renouned among nerds of a day (source: was one), yet this form of discuss app fast outgrew a common beginnings.

AOL Instant Messenger got a standalone in mid-1997, building on a judgment and creation it an easy transition from millions of AOL subscribers. Along with MSN Messenger, that flattering most blew a lid off a discuss market, and prefigured today’s fractured ecosystem. (Disclosure: AOL owns TechCrunch — it was rather a opposite association behind then, though.)

Mirabilis, a association shaped around ICQ and a technologies, was bought shortly afterward by AOL for $407 million ($287M down and $120M some-more fortuitous on performance) — an eye-popping series during a time, yet we’ve gotten used to such things in a dual decades since. In 2001, it had some-more than 100 million users.

I’m a wrong chairman to go into all a changes given afterwards — a many forward-thinking facilities added, a sale in 2008 to what would after turn a Mail.ru group, a fast recognition in Russia and so on. You’d be improved off reading this Medium post.

It’s still available, and nonetheless it’s tough to contend because we should select it over a many other offerings today, it’s arrange of comforting to consider that a code and simple duty of something like ICQ can continue for so prolonged in so pell-mell an environment. Oh, and a desktop chronicle is open source.

Happy 20th, ICQ! Many happy returns.

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