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AOL Instant Messenger retires after connecting people for 20 years

AOL Instant Messenger, a chat program that connected a generation of internet chat users in the early 90s and early 2000s will officially shut down on December 15 after 20 years in service, its parent company announced Friday. The news brings to an end an era for online chat users who came of age in the early days of online instant messaging.

Launched in 1997, the platform largely defined the internet for a generation and served as a social centre for teenagers and young adults, the scene of deeply resonant memories and the place where people learned how to interact online. But the service failed to evolve with time and the fast pace of online messaging.

With the launch of smartphones, the brand became largely shadowed over the last decade and replaced by text messages, Google Chat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others.

Oath, the company created earlier this year from Verizon’s merging of AOL and Yahoo, acknowledged this unfortunate fact in its announcement Friday of AIM’s shutdown.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” Michael Albers, VP of communications product at Oath, wrote in a blog post.

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