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AOL Instant Messenger heads to the technology graveyard

by Alyssa Newcomb /
An AOL Inc. Instant Messenger inflatable logo sits in the company's headquarters in New York in 2011.Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Friday marks the last day for AOL Instant Messenger, the trailblazing chat program beloved by '90s kids and people relieved they would no longer have to get up and talk to their co-workers in person.

The famous yellow running man logo is sprinting to the technology retirement community, where it will join the likes of fellow 1990s favorites GeoCities and Ask Jeeves.

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Michael Albers, vice president of communications product at Oath, the newly formed brand encompassing Yahoo, AOL, and a portfolio of other Verizon-owned companies, praised AIM for creating a "cultural shift" but said in 2017, "the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed."

"We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world," Albers said in October, when the decision was first announced.

Related: Yahoo, AOL Joining Forces Under a New Company Called Oath

AIM was first introduced to the world in 1997 as a stand-alone download, and it quickly became a massive success, helping many '90s kids navigate the world of middle school and high school.

In many ways, it was a precursor to the social media world we know today. AIM could be used to catch up with friends, arrange group chats, and those all-important status messages served as a window into what a person was thinking, much like a tweet or a Facebook status update.

However, adoption changed as text messaging took over and newer, more mobile-friendly products came onto the market, including Google's GChat and Facebook's Messenger.

While chances are you haven't used AIM in a decade, spare a thought on this Friday for your first screen name, buddy list, and these all-too-familiar sounds.

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