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We stand before you today to bid farewell to a bright, yellow soul. It taught us how to “lol,” when to “brb,” and even shared with us the occasional “ROFL.” And now, ball4lyfe will send his last messages before December 15th, when AIM enters its eternal slumber in cyberspace. 

Childhood

AIM was brought into the world by AOL engineer Barry Appelman in May of 1997. That night, it took its first steps with 900 initial users…and it wasn’t long before the growth spurt began. 

Everyone wanted to be like AIM. There was Yahoo Messenger in 1998, MSN Messenger in 1999, and Jabber, which integrated all three messaging platforms in the early 2000’s. Even Apple’s first version of iChat was compatible with AIM.

Times were good. By 2005, AIM hosted 53 million users. 

The later years

AIM adjusted to life with a new parent in 2015, when Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion. But by then, AIM’s health had been compromised. In 2011, its market share dwindled to 0.7%, and only a year later AOL decided to scrap the instant messenger’s dev team. 

The cause of death? Years of neglect by its caregiver, AOL, which failed to devote resources to a service that didn’t directly drive revenue. There was also a failure to innovate—the same ailment that claimed the lives of other first-gen chat platforms like MSN Messenger (2014) and Yahoo Messenger (2016). 

But as we mourn, know that AIM’s legacy lives on. Messaging company Slack raised a $250 million funding round at a $5.1 billion valuation, and Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp back in 2014. 

AIM lived a trailblazing life as a pioneer in digital technology, spreading Away messages of hope from desktop to desktop all around the world. And for that, we’ll always be grateful.

- Morning Brew

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