AOL hated AIM despite its popularity

Before Facebook and MySpace, before you were connecting with friends and family with WhatsApp, there was AIM, probably one of the most recognizable names from the early Internet. If you were a child of the 90s, chances are you used the famous chat program, which was offered as a free service by AOL. It was ahead of its time, and laid the groundwork for many of the services people use today—both social networks and chat platforms. But whatever happened to AIM, and why isn’t it more popular today? Money.

The 1990s belonged to America Online. It had risen above competitors in Prodigy and CompuServe to become the dominant Internet service provider for American households. Millions of subscribers paid AOL monthly for the ability to sign online. Its disks could be found almost anywhere. The “You’ve got mail” notification became the sound Americans associated with their first email accounts, as well as a movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Barry Appelman, Eric Bosco and Jerry Harris worked at AOL in the 1990s and early 2000s as engineers on AOL Instant Messenger, known commonly as AIM.

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