AIM (THE EVOLUTION)
1989 - The Advent of Consumer Instant Messaging
AOL introduces consumer instant messaging (IM), pioneering a trend that
would change the face of online communications. In addition to email,
consumers can now send and receive real time text communications, previ-
ously available only on private networks.
1996 - The Buddy List® Feature is Born
The Buddy List® feature launches on the AOL® 3.0 service. This AOL
innovation revolutionized IM by letting AOL® members organize their “bud-
dies” and see who was online and able to receive messages, jump-starting
America’s most powerful online community. While aspects of the feature
have been copied by others, AOL’s Buddy List network supports the nation’s
largest IM community.
1997 - The AIM® Service Launches
The free and public AIM® service launches, bringing the benefits of IM and
the Buddy List feature to a Web-wide audience.
1998 - AOL’s Buddy List® Feature Joins Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian recognizes AOL’s Buddy List network as a remarkable
social achievement. AOL’s Buddy List network enters the Smithsonian
Institution’s permanent research collection on Information Technology
Innovation at the National Museum of American History.
1998 - AOL Acquires ICQ
AOL purchases the pioneering ICQ® service, the first free IM service on the
Web, which debuted in November 1996.
1999 - Enter Buddy Icons
By this time, AIM had already spawned its own language and emoticons.
The launch of Buddy icons marks the first generation of self-expression
features for personalizing IMs. The first Buddy icons are cartoon characters,
symbols, drawings and graphical images.
1999 - AIM® Directory Launches
Bringing in the second wave of IM-based social networking features (after
the Buddy List feature), the AIM® Community Directory makes it possible
for users to create a personal profile and search by topic to find other people
with common interests.
2000 - AIM® Service