RIP AIM: Lifehacker Readers’ Favorite Memories of AOL Instant Messenger

For those of us who remember the early days of the Internet, today marks the official end of an era that, to be honest with ourselves, is long over: the heyday of AOL Instant Messenger.

Today, the chat service is shutting down forever, although most of its enthusiastic early adopters have long since ditched it in favor of Gchat, Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger and the myriad other chat options that are now available to us.

But for many of us, AIM has helped cut our teeth and get a feel for the still evolving etiquette of online chat; how to get rid of the messages of good and evil; maintaining a snapchat-like “login clock series”; navigation in group chats; sliding into DM of lovers (or strangers); and express yourself with increasingly complex emoji.

On behalf of the digital Irish Wake (BYOB, sorry), we asked you to share your strongest AIM memories , and god you delivered. Below is a final tribute to the chat client that started it all:

You trolled your fellow students:

Whenever I was in the college computer lab, I always tried to remove AIM from the station I was on. He drove other students who used the lab to go crazy.

You’ve made some serious mistakes with your display names :

I have had several unpleasant stories. 2 in particular 1. I moved to California from Texas when I was 14 years old. All my friends at my little private school decided to call me the Tex I owned, even though I was a short, chubby Jewish guy from the suburbs with no athletic performance. I have created an alias “TtoThaX”. It made a lot of sense to me with the choice of Caps Lock, but to everyone else, ttothax just sounded like Roger Daughtry’s “My Generation” lisping stutter. I was so tired of this reaction that I was desperate for a change. For some strange reason, my little private school wrote a school song in which one of the lines read: “More precious than a sparkling jewel.” Due to my extreme self-doubt and the unanimous “panning” of the song by the students at my school, I thought I was going to be funny, creative and get some Popularity Points in high school by changing my nickname to More Precious Than. If “The Hobbit” hit theaters that year, I might have been ridiculed less, but the nicest thing my peers could tell me was that it was a pseudonym for an 11-year-old girl. I’m glad we are using facebook messenger where we use a lot of real names to communicate. I miss the personality that we could show with a pseudonym. Fond memories of late night, usually hormonally stimulating conversations with people on the periphery of our peer group.

(Not one of you did this) :

I remember my nickname was something like MysticRift as I was into the RIFTS RPG and the Mystic class inside.

One chat conversation that stuck with me: I was just walking back and forth with people in one of the main, general chats (hey, remember them ??) when this happened:

Mysticrift: I don’t know, I just find it funny

SomeRandomDude: * starts rubbing MysticRift to find out why she’s feeling funny *

Mysticrift: dude, 18 / m / ca

SomeRandomDude: No wonder you were funny.

In a few weeks I will turn 38 and I ALWAYS remember laughing a lot about it.

And of course you wrote ~~~~ awkward messages ~~~~:

AIM is partially responsible for how fast I can type. Because I felt the need to have as many conversations as possible with my friends at the same time, I became a really good machinist. I had to take a typing test for jobs where they were impressed with my speed / accuracy. I basically spend many hours on AIM to thank for this.

Besides, my leaving message and the like were usually a little lyrical, because of course they were. Most likely 3rd Eye Blind or Savage Garden. But I had several different descriptors that I switched between depending on what I needed to use it for or who I wanted to talk to.

A bunch of you found love:

PURPOSE is the reason that I am married to my husband. When I was in college, I had a free account (meaning I could receive messages but not send anyone). It suited me at the time because I was just interested in learning about online dating sites, but I was not really interested in meeting anyone through them. I could just as well be a bot, but bots these days are probably really responding to the people who send their messages.

My husband had the foresight to leave his AIM username in his first message to me and it worked because without it I would never have spoken to him.

Or did you find … something else:

Mutual masturbation with Los Angeles girls who are no doubt really guys from Iowa

Or did you love and lost :

That was 20 years ago, we were in high school, doing homework together and exchanging messages through AIM. I was lucky enough to have a line for a couple of hours to use the phone line, her family had two lines to the house. So after soccer practice it was common for us to chat on AIM for a while, most of the school knew that I liked it. It was one fatal autumn day, she teased that she liked a certain boy and that she was going to tell me at the end of the allotted time for me to call, which this time took forever … she wrote: “The boy I like , is … [ClemsonEE]. = P “and immediately signed up.

My world was spinning and I loved it. As with most high school romances, this was a very special occasion, I asked her to be my girlfriend in 7th grade and she said no. I asked her to be my girlfriend in 8th grade, but she said no. I asked her to be my girlfriend in 9th grade, but she said no. But that didn’t stop us from talking almost all night about the unmistakable AIM filled with flirtation and intimacy. I didn’t ask her in 10th grade, instead I took one of her friends to Homecoming, which was finally the turning point, she was finally ready!

We started dating in the summer before our first year of study. A wonderful relationship of first love. I voted for a cool couple, went to Clemson together, left AIM and switched to G-Chat. We got married, adopted the most adorable black labrador, life was going great. We are now divorced and AIM is shutting down.

Aim road like a tablecloth. (and I kept a dog)

You have argued with chatbots , sometimes without even realizing it:

Similar to SmaterChild, I found an app (wait, we didn’t call them “apps” then, unless they were on the first page of the Applebee menu) – I found a program that was a bot that interacted with a simple website where you can type specific words and what the answers should be. The rest was at AI’s discretion.

A friend of mine from college managed to persuade several of his classmates to add the bot as a friend, seemingly not knowing what the installation was. One evening I came home for a long argument in which the bot won.

The bot was neutral, not inflammatory, so when he expressed his affection for the person’s mom, I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

You have used it to cope with more serious crises :

On September 11th, I used it to tell my friends that I was okay … and found out about several missing friends (later found out that they did not survive)

I remember helping a depressed guy recover in the mid 90s. My wife thought it was very creepy and weird to be chatting with a stranger all over the country, especially about personal things. I really helped this guy and I love it.

You have organized the exchange of gifts:

Avorite is a memory of AIM, a group of friends, once we all decided that we would be holding each other’s Christmas lists. One person will have another person’s list, they will post it on their profile, and when someone decides to receive this gift, they will notify the person who has the list and the item will be crossed out. I have been rigorously looking at a friend’s profile to see what I get for Christmas. It’s great to be a teenager again.

Memory 2, how long people can stay on AIM without logging out.

You prank your friends for no reason:

I remember one of my college roommates connecting his AIM to a phone for the first time. Soon after, I wanted to get his attention, so I just spam him about 50 messages, all just “hello” or something.

A minute or two later, he burst into all sorts of anger and begged me to stop – apparently each of these messages cost him money, since they were technically text messages.


Have you been fond of role-playing games:

So many memories from the role rooms. Between various niche communities like the Xavier Institute (X-Men RP) and free forms like Rhydin (Red Dragon Inn / The Forest). This place was like the core of existence, where anyone or anything could appear. A gothic vampire could sip bloody wine in a bar next to a four-armed feline prince who is the last of its kind, while the gnome stood in the corner snoring snoring against her space pirate girlfriend. The best memory, besides meeting my first love in chat, was the hour-long battle I had with the Hulk that sent us from chat to a chat room crashing through Raidin streets, Raidin Falls, Raidin mall (I don’t know why there was a shopping center, but it was a pastime for skaters), etc. The saddest memory, besides the fact that people constantly tried to impose their own dice rules (your clan dice only work in your clan rooms, newb! 2d20 or GTFO) was when anime started to invade. It is also realizing how many people were actually just looking for cyber sex.

Finally, you asked the tough questions:

A / S / L?


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