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AIM will be discontinued today (aol.com)
374 points by cryptodogemoon 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 264 comments

Unfortunately you are not able to save or export your Buddy List.

Your data associated with AIM will be deleted after December 15, 2017.

Yes, you can manually save images and files to your computer until the morning of December 15, 2017.

Whatever you thought of AIM, it's stuff like this that makes you realize just how important software freedom is. Insane that there is just no way at all, without outright hacking the program (to the extent that hacking it is possible), to export your data, that you generated, and should by rights be yours to at the very least save (and not have to comb through potentially decades of chat history to export pictures and files one-by-one).

I, for one, am happy to see all my old AIM conversations deleted and lost forever.

Ok, but that should be your choice, not AOL's.

It is your choice to save it locally. They are just saying that their copy will be deleted.

> Unfortunately you are not able to save or export your Buddy List.

Did they ever say that information they store on their servers is solely owned by the user that generated said information?

In the US, copyright law says you own what you create. What AOL's TOS must do is provide you with terms under which you license your stuff to AOL. Nowhere in the law does it say they have to give you a way to export the creations that you put into their system.

Isn’t IM considered ephemeral anyways? Email is a different story...

It was the users choice to abide by the user agreement?

I don't get how any reasonable framework can exist to say such detailed efforts at curating my identity must be pushed upon others?

You want a lifelong log of your discourse? Write it in a medium you control.

This is some hyper-active nationalist zeitgeist? You are not owed a say in any and every facet of life that touches you incidentally. It's never been the case "on the ground" in America.

I would have preferred AOL not have the ability to even read it, let alone store it.

Yes. Thousands of ASL's are gone forever.

Hold on, hold on, let me put on my robe and wizard hat!

I didn't even consider that. All those shitty things I said when I was a teenager...

For me, it's not the shitty things I said. It's the things that I thought were eloquent and insightful and informative and good, that now cause me to cringe. Kind of like looking at some old code, wondering what illiterate chimpanzee produced that mess, and realizing it was you...

That said, the first messages from my wife to me still make me smile, and I'm sure that my responses that make me cringe would make her smile.

I am again reminded that "youngsters these days" pretty much no longer have this option unless their online footprint is actively managed from Day One.

A part of me can't wait to see the President whose entire life can be cherry-picked from various servers and datacenters.

>A part of me can't wait to see the President whose entire life can be cherry-picked from various servers and datacenters.

So we can add porn preferences (Hi Senator Cruz!) to list of non-issues people use when choosing the leader of the free world!

Anthony Weiner is another example, albeit more "stupid" than "matter of course" given today's casual "life online" du jour.

The documentary ("Wiener" IIRC) about his run for mayor is pretty good.

Like a train crash in slow motion - good.

> A part of me can't wait to see the President whose entire life can be cherry-picked from various servers and datacenters.

This is much more crazy the more you think about. Right now there are already thousands if not millions of kids who will never be able to get a higher up political position because of what they shared on social media.

Pot has been legalised. At least in some jurisdictions.

Attitudes change. Sometimes profoundly. It can be quite disconcerting when it happens.

(Or when you realise you're living in the aftermath of some previous Great Shift.)

This isn't necessarily true, snapchat deletes all of the physical messages sent within 30 days.

Snapchat is only one of several organizations who get a copy of the messages.

Sure, but the point is that they aren't retained, and in turn, leave young people in a position where they won't be blackmailed as adults for the shitty things they said as a teenager on platforms they thought were safe.

They are retained by the other organizations. It's good that at least snapchat itself removes it's copies though.

Who are the other organizations? You sound super sure, I feel like I missed a news story recently that you read.

I'm not sure if there has been confirmation anywhere but it would be foolish to assume nobody is storing the messages you send on a closed platform. You don't know how it works so your only safe assumption is the worst case.

We all thought Usenet was ephemeral and then Dejanews revealed themselves...

Didn't know that, who gets copies?

Not sure wha GP is referring to exactly. But at least in theory, it’s possible for Google to access the images, since they’re stored on Google servers. In practice this is very unlikely.

If you save the snaps to your camera roll, then any app with photos permissions has access to them (along with any metadata). But that’s obvious.

I am astounded of the faith people still have that companies and 3 letter agencies will not store and use their data forever, after all the revelations in the past years. And to think this is YCombinator News, not some random news website.

It's not faith, for me, I was just surprised by the confidence with which Xeoncross said that the data is copied. It sounded like this was just a public, documented fact that I missed.

Safe assumptions:

1) The network is compromised.

2) Users have hostile intent.

3) (Cloud) storage is publicly visible.

The US just elected a president with decades of his incredibly shitty life cherry-picked by his detractors. I'm not sure that him having a Facebook profile at the age of 16 would have changed anything.

Before that we had a president photographed smoking a joint as a young man; before that we had a president convicted of DUI. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Same with Zuck.

Holy shit, emphatically this, yes. Especially the conversations with exes.

Roy Moore?

Sorry, couldn't resist ;)

I actually took screenshots of my buddy list for just this reason. I will eventually put it into a text document. Seeing all my friends’ old screen names brought back so many memories. Was well worth the ~15 minutes it took me.

upload it to Google Drive for easy OCR to a doc


Why let Google invade your (and your friend's) privacy just something easily done locally.

Most people (including myself, an average HN reader) don't actually know how to do this locally.

You can search for 'OCR your-os' and will get a multitude of tools that work locally.

As an average HN reader, that's probably not a big problem. Surely, you're accustomed to researching and learning to use new pieces of software that do the things you'd like?

If you're on windows I found that MS OneNote has great built in OCR.

Huh... good question. I guess I would just assume that if they were deleting the data, then that must mean the've already sold it to Google, with some type of exclusively contract that mandates the removal.

This is ridiculous FUD, you're not compromising anybody's privacy by letting google drive do an OCR for you. The chance is extremely remote that there would somehow be a leak of the information to malicious parties or the like out of Google. Is this is all over the possibility of their advertising engine seeing keywords and giving you an ad based on it? Even if that's the case then that's not a privacy violation, no human ever can see how that's associated with a specific identity. Do you also avoid sending anything personal through gmail? Using google search at all? It's impractical tinfoil hat territory to act like there's any reason to be concerned about this OCR tool or any other instance of putting your files on Google. To my knowledge there has never been a hack of Google's data or any leak connecting any user's identity to PII.

It really doesn't matter.

For those who are concerned about the privacy and are mindful enough to care about the privacy of others, putting any information on anyone else's computer (like Google's servers) is a leak. You don't know what is being done with those data, intentionally or not. And that would be the case regardless of whether or not the software is free/libre---it's being sent across a network to a destination you do not control.

Of course, information is leaked all of the time. Depending on the software that you use, your (generally, not you specifically) address book on your phone might be available to numerous remote services, and that is directly parsable by third parties, and directly tied to you and your contacts. It's up to you to consider your threat model. mynewtb's threat model is different than yours.

...and folks concerned about security were using AOL Instant Messenger?

Maybe when they were younger and less cognizant of the potential consequences of certain actions? People can change their views on things over time.

I'm 28 and am a free software activist focusing heavily and user privacy and security, iving talks on those issues and meeting with my local school district to discuss how it impacts students.

When I was a teenager in middle school what almost feels like another lifetime ago, I used AIM.

>Even if that's the case then that's not a privacy violation, no human ever can see how that's associated with a specific identity

How can no human see the data that Google has? Google is not a magical place where machines cannot be compromised.

>To my knowledge there has never been a hack of Google's data or any leak connecting any user's identity to PII.

The Snowden leaks say otherwise. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/10/30/nsa_smile...

>This is ridiculous FUD, you're not compromising anybody's privacy by letting google drive do an OCR for you.

So it depends on your threat model. If you care about rogue Google employees or other actors with 0-day exploits, then putting information into the hands of Google is a risk.

OK, that's the NSA, you can assume they know everything already. And in this case, the article mentions Yahoo, which is where the information was in the first place.

Indeed! The discussion is about rogue elements getting a Buddy List that was in AOL's hands, and therefore one should assume the TLAs already had it. Google might not have, unless you, or all your contacts, used the AIM/Google talk integration that existed for a bit, in which case they had it. Leaving aside that it's quite likely these connections already leave a Google-based data trail.

If that algorithm is building a model of me, then yes, it's clearly an invasion of my privacy. Google itself is the entity that I do not want to have access to a model of me.

I don't agree that an algorithm building a model of you based on information you've provided to the website is an invasion of privacy.

Can you characterize what you consider an invasion of your privacy? Can you bound what you would find reasonable for someone else to characterize as an invasion of privacy?

Personally identifiable/private information about an individual being made available to another individual without consent from the subject. Gmail running an automated algorithm over your mail and suggesting an ad doesn't do this. If an actual person was reading all your mail, something you generally have an expectation of privacy in dealing with, or the advertising profiles advertisers use were leaked in such a way that they could be attached to the specific individuals they're related to, that would be an invasion of privacy.

> Unfortunately

This is quickly becoming my least favorite corporate buzzword.

"We realize this is bad as well and we are on your side. It's just that the cosmos (fortune) has cast this upon us all. Woe is us! ... Unfortunately, you'll need to buy our other product to do this."

Edit: a word.

I'm pretty sure you can do this with Pidgin, which is the only chat program I used from like 2004 to 2010 or so.

Yes, I have my logs because I used Pidgin since before they offered chat history within AIM.

I'd rather AOL not keep permanent logs of everything. They would now be for sale to the highest bidder.

As for my own data, Adium kept logs that I zipped up before I stopped using it. (And I have logs from "gaim" that predate using OSX/Adium.) I don't think it did pictures / files back when I used it, but I'd hope Adium would keep local copies of that too.

I found an old hard drive the other day and booted it up out of curiosity. What I found were old MSN Messenger chat logs from when I was a teenager. I spent all night reading them. It was... magical. Lots of vivid memories returning, I cried and laughed.

It's a damn shame that an entire generation is growing up with their chat logs locked in the cloud.

I haven't used their official client in decades, didn't even know it still existed. Trillian keeps your buddylist (along with backups) in the user data folder on Windows.

Agreed but in this case I took a stab at downloading the buddy list and with a bit of tech know-how it's not terrible: http://dangoldin.com/2017/10/09/downloading-your-aim-buddy-l...

This is interesting. Did you pay for your conversations? I mean yeah you generated them but I don't expect to get conversations I've had via phone back and I'm paying for that service.

I think the idea of ownership is interesting here. I don't disagree that you should own it but then wouldn't you need to pay for it? Or did you pay for it by letting them sell your data to third party vendors? In that case, yeah you paid for it. What about Hacker News? Can you export your conversations here? Should you be able to? Meh, sorry mid-day musings.

Identity is super hard to export and it always has been.

There are privacy issues: do you disclose email addresses to establish identity?

Imagine exporting a Facebook group, it is incredibly hard to do.

Interestingly enough this should be illegal when you do a "Personal Data Request" they should be forced by law to give it out.

Your data associated with AIM will be deleted after December 15, 2017.

Is it my data? If it is, why are you deciding for me what happens to it?

One thing I'll miss about AIM is that it's a communication modality that doesn't exist right now.

It was everywhere, and on MacOS it was integrated into the OS. For most people I knew, they had it set to join when they got on the computer. So it meant that you knew when your friends were at the computer, and you knew when you could have long "in the background" conversations with your friends.

It was just a different level of intimacy - I had so many longer and interesting, sometimes deep conversations through AIM (or through iMessage hooked up with AIM).

On a Mac at least, that's unlike anything we have now with facebook and Messenger.app. Now when you look at your buddy list, you have no idea whether they're at their computer or if they're busy or running around with their phone. I try to get my friends to join a Slack room with me, but we don't always have it started, or we're in a different Slack room. At any rate there just isn't that critical mass where you know someone is online and chattable.

It was just a totally different type of online conversation ("convo") which doesn't exist anymore. You always initiated with a "hey" or "sup." It was considered rude to not say "gtg, bye" before signing off or even "brb" when stepping away for 5 mins.

I will never know if the glory of my AIM days was due to being a teenager or just being a part of online chat during that special window of its history.

WhatsApp group chat with my closest friends is definitely incredible, but a different experience.

I find Discord to fill this space in a slightly more effective way, although I don't believe they differentiate from mobile vs. computer use quite yet. However, I find a majority of my friends (and I personally) use discord mainly on desktop. I don't even have discord on my phone.

Discord has absolutely replaced AIM/MSN/ICQ/IRC for my friends. Everyone I care to chat to uses it, and has it on all their devices, including phone, as our primary messenger. My circle of friends is admittedly nearly entirely techies (and some finance crowd who seem to love Discord too).

I use Discord, but I only have it installed on my phone. More convenient that way.

Do you actually use it for gaming?

Completely agree. I miss this capability so much. Now with cell phones we're 'always online' but in a weird way less available (well. way more of my messages get ignored now than did my AIM chats).

We have cellphones now no need to know when someone is online. AIM and AOL before it were great when you don’t have text. No one needs that now when you have texts app or snap chat.

The one thing I do miss are times when you could just find a random classmates username and message them. When you do this with text it can be a little more awkward if you don’t know each other.

Why do you need to know if a freind is only if you can text, iMessage or WhatsApp anyone in the world almost?

The point is that with AIM (or instant messenger, generally), you knew who was up for chatting. If someone wasn't up for chatting, they either would have an away message or wouldn't be signed on at all. Sure, I can text my friends at any hour. But they might be out at dinner. Or at a concert. Or trying to sleep.

> The point is that with AIM (or instant messenger, generally), you knew who was up for chatting. If someone wasn't up for chatting, they either would have an away message or wouldn't be signed on at all.

That's an interesting feature I think, but nothing is preventing that to be implemented on a new or current chat program. It would solve the distraction problem of always being available and online.

I made quite a few friends as a result of friends-of-friends joining a chat, friend leaves for the night and the conversation continues even without the intermediary friend. That happens with IRL interactions sometimes too but not as often in my experience, usually everyone leaves if the links are broken. I don't think most people would continue a conversation with someone they didn't really know after they happened to be part of the same group text either.

Happens sometimes amongst my friend groups with Facebook groups. Though I also don't really have a problem with going "hey, I'm not headed home, want to go get a drink at the next place?" with folks I've just met through a friend, and nobody really ever seems to have a problem with the question.

Apples and oranges. I'd never use text on a phone for any kind of long conversation; it's just for quick messages, synchronizing meet-ups, and such. Part of it is that I don't enjoy reading or writing on a mobile device; it's a kind of second-class experience. Part of it is certainly that my patterns of availability have changed.

And part is because someone's status could give you insight into whether they'd like to talk or not before you sent a single message. Maybe some of the modern mobile-oriented systems still do that? I don't know; I don't have any friends that use them.

Yeah, there's a push towards asynchronous communication (e.g. Gchat -> Google Hangouts), but what makes real-time synchronous chat so great was the attention from both parties.

When messages have a lag in response, there's generally not as much excitement and before you know it, one person is preoccupied with something else.

XMPP still supports this - mobile clients can self-report as such (most do), and desktop clients usually display whether someone's logged in from a mobile client or not.

There was a rip of some techno song I'd listen to often with the AIM door sound, always made me check AIM for some reason.

I completely agree! Today, as far as I know, only Facebook Messenger comes even close to supporting it.

Specifically, Messenger can show you an "online now" tab, indicating who is currently at least using Messenger or Facebook, and can even show you "Active now" versus "Active 30m ago".

I still used it pretty regularly until today. I only had like 2 people I talked to on it, but I like that we were all on it all the time and I was on it when I was otherwise unavailable online to everyone but those couple close friends.

Telegram Desktop comes pretty close to this ideal.

Truly sad. So much of my young social life was experienced through AIM. Screen names are still part of the identity of some of my friends. For some folks that have already passed, our last conversations are on AIM. Don't know what else to say, but it definitely feels like a link to another era of my life is fading away. Nothing is permanent.

RIP running man!

You just reminded my that my main screen name I use for everything was the one I originally came up with for AIM in like 16+ years ago.

You summed up my feelings perfectly. So many notable moments in my life played out over AIM conversations, especially discussions with my girlfriend (now wife) when we were geographically separated during our college years.

Nothing is permanent, exactly so.

Our ability to slog around drives full of data lets us gloss over this fact, but when we're dead, are our kids gonna keep slogging around our drives? Nah.

Better way to get permanence in your life is to do things that people will remember you for, if permanence is what you're after. Crowd-sourced in other people's memories.

That's why you need to keep it on some kind of cloud storage drive arranging an annuity or trust to keep paying the bills. Then, you have a script on a cloud server that posts on Craigslist once a year or month, hiring someone to duplicate your setup on a new cloud provider, opening a port for one of your existing nodes to connect to and verify, and also ask that person to modify the reproduction script of the clone, so that it will post on a Craigslist equivalent but not Craigslist. You'd also need some logic so that the rate you add clones is limited to the rate at which your fund to pay for the clones increases.

Someone needs to write an Ethereum contract for data archiving! Pay for storage based on market rates, regularly verify integrity with hashes, etc.

Haha, a never-ending hell for the kids you leave behind when you die. Love it. It should email them monthly messages, too. "Your dead parents data is STILL SAFE."

I'd include in that email an estimate of how much money has been spent on the preservation campaign so far.

"If your ancestor hadn't decided to dedicate X dollars (inflation adjusted Y dollars for current year) to this project you would have inherited calculateInheritant(tauntEmailRecipient, currentYear, familyTree, preferredCurrencyDenomination). PS - please reply to this email with contact information for any new descendants. If email is going out of style as a communication protocol, please reply with a program that, when executed, will take from standard in a filename that contains a message, and as a second parameter a contact address. Attached to this email you'll find a project spec describing this program more rigorously.

I am also feeling really nostalgic about AIM shutting down. My HN screen name is the one I created for AIM many moons ago.

> Truly sad. So much of my young social life was experienced through AIM.

This could be read in more than one way. I agree it is sad.

Something I'll miss about AIM and older chat clients is how compact they were. Most of these newer chat programs seem to assume you're going to have their application take up the entire screen.

Yes, and will continually bloat with upgrades since "computers get faster, what's the problem?" (See: Electron platform.)

The main AIM client was notorious for this itself (at least in the 2000s when I used it), ads, growing installation size, bloat "features", etc.

It's what pushed a lot of users to use alternate clients or stick with old versions.

Or install "AIM Ad Hack". Ahhh Nostalgia.

Most modern audio players have the same issue. WinAmp/XMMS took up very little of your screen, while most modern players will assume that full screen is what you want.

That's the reason I'm still using Winamp. Its aged surprisingly well and it has more features than a lot of modern media players.

It really whips the llama's ass.

There's also http://aimp2.us/, which, AFAIR, in some respects whips Winamp's ass. Sadly nothing comparable to either on Linux.

Winamp 2 or 5?

Version 5 kinda sucks.

Maybe its because I don't know what I'm missing, but I didn't start using Winamp until version 5, and I think its great. Sure it has a lot of unnecessary or even broken features (looking at you audio converter), but those are easy to ignore and you can even remove some of them.

This is one of the (few?) things that iTunes gets right. Though it's a little hidden, the entire program can be minimized into a small floating album cover.

And if that's not small enough, you can minimize it altogether and just get updates and controls via Notification Center.

Foobar2k on Windows and Deadbeef on Linux seems to do much the same job of playing music while staying minimal.

Sorry, but I see nothing minimal in their screenshots [0]. Same iTunes for my taste. I do believe the performance footprint is minimal, but that't not the first aspect for an everyday app.

[0] http://deadbeef.sourceforge.net/screenshots/0.6/screenshots....

Vox on MacOS does this by default. Very simple/fast/small music player.

They need all that room for ads.

One thing I hate about most IM clients is the buddy/friend/roster list runs in a separate window from actual chat sessions.

I much prefer the one window paradigm of IRC.

Funny, I'm the exact opposite. Most of the chat programs I use (or have used) use the combined approach. Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and so on all have the "buddy list" permanently attached to the conversation window such that you can only see a single conversation at a time. I prefer the MDI of yore since I can have multiple conversations open at once (on desktop, I realize this isn't feasible on mobile).

What chat apps use separate windows? The only one I can think of is Steam.

Pretty much every older chat program used this at some point including Google chat, Yahoo, MSN, AIM, Pidgin, and even Skype.

True. This is probably due to the fact that many applications are "ported" from the web and web does not grok floating windows.

Good point! Perhaps it's a holdover from smartphone chat apps, most of which were designed full-screen.

The part that was IMHO completely un-thought-through:

> Can I save my Buddy List?

> Unfortunately you are not able to save or export your Buddy List.


> What happens to my data?

> Your data associated with AIM will be deleted after December 15, 2017.


> Can I save my images and files?

> Yes, you can manually save images and files to your computer until the morning of December 15, 2017.

> (Instructions to manually open each chat then scroll through looking for images and files)

I expect it was thought through, and the thought was "a few hundred thousand people use this service still, it's running under one employee's desk* and is completely unfunded, no effort above the minimum is to be expended."

*Not sure if this was explicitly said or someone's joking claim during a past discussion of the shutdown.

The final user numbers were way less than you would guess. It was a service built to handle tens of millions of users serving thousands. Scaling down that much is as labour intensive as scaling up. It's not just a launching all the services on a handful of VMs. The time had passed to make it a WhatsApp etc competitor.

>Scaling down that much is as labour intensive as scaling up.

Could you elaborate on this? I'm very interested to understand the challenges of downsizing a cloud service as I've never heard of that happening, and am surprised to hear it's difficult.

1. Everyone that wrote the code has probably left the company, or is working on more important projects.

2. The code was written in 90s and 00s.

3. I wouldn't be surprised if AOL owns the hardware AIM is running on. Deploying on smaller servers would mean a complete system replacement, which always requires large amounts of regression testing.

4. Big services usually have more dependencies than small services. Each dependency adds complexity and costs.

It probably is as hard to down scale an old service as it is to upscale a new service. It's probably less hard to downscale a new service than upscale a new service.

Also, if your users are dwindling (and not paying) it's less important to give that software attention.

Down to just thousands, not even tens of thousands? Wow. I knew about three others still using it (and I had it around for them), though only two of them messaged me with any regularity.

It's amazing how temporary things are. I never used AIM much but if I had I would have a lot of history in my life with a particular service and now they would pull the plug. Ditto with Facebook these days. Or hosted software like Google Reader.

In contrast, I still have most what I grew up with. Disk images of my old computers, binaries of games and applications, fully usable in emulators. There's IRC -- while the networks I used then have died a long time ago IRC probably never dies. I still use IRC on some networks and interface some other chat services by using a proxy frontend that you can connect with an IRC client.

But most importantly, I can launch early computer games from my childhood. It's like having your old toys on a shelf at your parent's house. Not only I can still try out the game I never could finish (and observe that I still can't finish it because games in the 80's were often both stupid and ridiculously hard), but I can put my kids at the controls and tell them this is what their parent used to play at the same age. It's not just history and culture but an origin. This is where I came from. For a human being that is a very concrete, if not tangible, thing, and of value in itself. Now think that you can't fire up Instagram or Facebook or even Angry Birds in 2035 and tell someone hey this is how we shared pictures, messaged, and gamed back in the 10's.

I share your sentiments but I don't think AIM is an example of this. I haven't used AIM in 8+ years but there was an easy-to-find checkbox in the official client (and unofficial ones too) to save all history as simple text files on disk. I'm pretty sure I still have records of AIM conversations from back in ~1999 in my backups.

Actually the linked article mentions this. Look for "Can I view and save my chat history?". It sounds like the checkbox I mentioned is enabled by default.

Goodbye. :(


Since everyone is sharing their AIM memories: When I was in college (1995-1998), AIM was the #1 way to flirt with people. Today the kids worry about whether they got a like or not.

Back then, you'd sit and stare at your buddy list waiting for that person you liked to come online so you could say something witty, and then stew with worry if they didn't respond but remained online.

>Back then, you'd sit and stare at your buddy list waiting for that person you liked to come online so you could say something witty, and then stew with worry if they didn't respond but remained online.

Or you'd get a friend/another account to IM them to see if they'd really blocked you or not.

Yes! You had your alt account to check for blocks. I forgot about that.

I was under the impression that in 1995-1998, flirting irl was still number 1.

Maybe in some places for some people, but for us Berkeley nerds it was definetly online. Of course you had to flirt in person to get their screen name.

You couldn’t scale like you did with AIM.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of doors suddenly slammed shut, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.


Browsing friends' creative AIM away messages were the precursor to that Snapchat status(?) feature I hear about.

AIM Status messages were the original inspiration for Twitter, then twttr. See : https://www.flickr.com/photos/jackdorsey/182613360 - twttr sketch by founder Jack Dorsey.

It's amazing (disheartening?) to see Twitter evolve from the website where you could tell your friends that you were eating dinner, to a website where the President of the USA makes real policy announcements.

well, theres about the same amount of thought put into either tweet

I dunno, I used to spend a lot of time making my status messages really clever.

Usually I spent at least 30 seconds deciding on where to go to dinner.

Life comes at you fast.

I guess he never fingered a .plan.

I wrote to own code to scrape my friend’s aim status, look for changes, slap them in a DB and then build a timeline web page out of them with PHP. I had my own twitter/facebook in 2000.

AIM had a surprisingly large effect on all of today's social web: https://medium.com/@jrdnbwmn/the-legacy-of-aim-4321761ec9ff

I presume you mean Snapchat stories?

In that case, it's a bit different. Snapchat (and Instagram) stories are a gallery of photos and videos that you upload, where the photos and videos are removed from the gallery after 24 hours. Essentially giving you a rolling 24 hour window into peoples lives.

I've become a big fan of instagram stories as a way of keeping up with what my friends are doing, since I've moved overseas. It feels a lot more appropriate than using something like a Facebook status to share what you're doing.

> gallery of photos and videos that you upload, where the photos and videos are removed from the gallery after 24 hours

Ugh, really? That sounds like a lot of work. Pass.

Basically if you see something cool, you take a snap.

Usually when I take a photo, I say "neat!", so I feel like Bender in Futurama (https://gph.is/1LilXnT)

Anyway, my point is they've made it quite seamless. Pull out phone, swipe for camera, maybe type some text, and hit the upload key.

And on the pedestal these words appear: “My name is AOL Time Warner, king of kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.” Nothing beside remains.

Seriously though, it is amazing to look back on the utter dominance of AOL in the late 90s-early 00s, and it’s almost complete disappearance shortly afterward.

> Why is AIM shutting down?

> We know there are so many loyal fans who have used AIM for decades; and we loved working and building the first chat app of its kind since 1997. Our focus will always be on providing the kind of innovative experiences consumers want. We’re more excited than ever to focus on building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products.

Corporate BS-speak at its best. Three sentences and 0% answering the question.

"...first chat app of its kind since 1997"

Wasn't ICQ the same kind of chat app?

Not the same kind, though the difference was subtle, and maybe not an important distinction to most people. In ICQ, you sent discrete messages back and forth. You could (I believe) look at the last message while replying, but you didn't have a chat history integrated into the same window where you replied. I used both ICQ and AIM in the '90s and early 2000s, even talking to the same people, and the interactions felt very different. ICQ felt like it was between email and AIM in the communication spectrum: obviously interactive and real-time, but each person tended to say more in each message. AIM's style encouraged more call-response conversations.

I point this out because I think it's an interesting case of user-interface design influencing use, even though on the surface they're both "chat apps."

I still have my ICQ number burned into my brain. There are other, more important, numbers I should be remembering and at times cannot, but that ICQ number is there.

Tangent for UK people: I have the emergency services number from The IT Crowd burned into my brain too: 01189998819991197253


Well, that's easy to remember!

US person here, singing the song in my head as I read your comment :)

There it is—my yearly reminder to rewatch that show. Cheers.

I was quite proud of my 7-digit (in ICQ world, the SMALLER the UIN (why do I still remember these acronyms!) the BIGGER your penis was) ICQ number that started with 404.

404. Quite clever, eh? I guess there was a lot more HTTP 404 errors back then.


Yes, I too remember my ICQ number but not the birthdays of... I PLEAD THE FIFTH YOUR HONOR!

I do too, but I have no idea what my password is.

I seem to recall that the ICQ window had a multiple modes.

One of them was individual messages, but another allowed each party to see what the other was typing in real time.

Also, if one want to talk about chat histories one should not forget about IRC.


I thought they were both instant messengers, just AIM was more popular in US and ICQ was more popular in Israel and Eastern Europe.

One distinct feature AIM had were the IRC-like chat rooms.


You may be confused WRT an ICQ "offline messaging" feature, which IIRC allowed one to send messages to offline contacts, who would see the message when they signed in.


Also in case you didn't know: ICQ is a (too lazy) of "I Seek You".

They were both "instant messengers." But their interface was different enough to lead to different behavior.

The worst part is they didn't even have to include this question. Including it and then giving such a bullshit non-answer is like a slap on the reader's face.

Speaking a lot and saying nothing.

This reads exactly like a politician getting asked a tough question, and dodging the answer. Except nobody asked, they’re dodging questions that THEY WROTE THEMSELVES. You know you’re a PR drone when ...

so shitty, they didn't give a SINGLE REASON

I can give you the reason.

Everybody at aol stopped using it years ago for internal communication and switched to slack.

The team had also been cut down to a skeleton crew a long time ago and they stopped development on it.

The reason why they are killing it as opposed to letting it hang around for ever is that aol has been in a multi-year long process of moving everything to AWS and due to the way aim is architected, it would be a major development effort to make the move, and they just don't want to spend the money.

I'm going to guess the mail product will also face a similar end for similar reasons.

I was amazed the other day to discover my favorite board game publisher, Rio Grande Games, has the email address (posted in their games as of 2017) of riogames@aol.com, which really surprised me. I wonder if they're still making money off of AOL email accounts?

Verizon bought AOL in 2015 [0] and has recently started discontinuing their ISP provided @verizon.net email addresses and servers[1] in favor of @aol.com addresses.

0: https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-to-buy-aol-for-4-4-bill... 1: https://help.aol.com/products/aol-mail-verizon

Just this week I've emailed with some contractors for some repairs at my house. Two of the three I received emails from came from an @aol.com email address.

They sell ads on it. I think they’ll keep the email addresses and use the yahoo mail back end.

@aol.com is popular with the "hipster" / "techbro" crowd here.

Because it's pretty much the same single unspoken reason for just about any decision of this general type. It didn't make business sense any longer.

Goodbye, AIM

You're not dead. Just set to away

While I completely understand why this is being done, it feels bizarre to me. Since I was 11 years old, AIM was one of those universal constants to me, not radically different than death or taxes in my mind.

I will really miss the fad of `xXxXmYcOoLsCrEeNaMexXx`, and the cheesy-yet-charming profiles and away messages.

AIM, I sollute you farewell. Without you, I wouldn't have as many good memories of my teens, and I wouldn't have the nickname "tombert"

Away messages... haven't thought about those in years. Back when you might occasionally find yourself away from any internet connected devices. Truly the 00s were a strange time.

I don't generally bother with away messages but I, for one, am routinely away from Internet devices for hours and even days at a time. Not everyone is plugged in 24/7.

I used AIM entirely through Trillian and that’s what I associate it with. I remember having it alongside ICQ, Microsoft Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger, all running under Trillian.

It gives me a “Those were the days...” moment.

Same here! I'm really sad they never added anymore chat protocols, and now most of the ones I used are obsolete or don't work.

I stopped when all my friends switched from Skype (which I used Trillian for) to Telegram, but I missed how compact Trillian was.

I get the impression that Pidgin, Trillian and the other one I can't really remember just gave up at some point.

I'm using Pidgin, mostly out of nostalgia, but the default configuration basically can't connect to any mainstream messenger these days (Facebook, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Skype or Viber). Plus the UI is so dated, especially regarding emojis.

Before anyone asks, it's in C and I'm nowhere competent (or interested enough in gaining the required competency) to contribute.

With stuff like Pidgin you notice what mindshare really means. A "crappy" Electron based app is nicer to use than the "native" one. In the end, it's all about coders polishing code. No hours put in, no end result coming out.

> I get the impression that Pidgin, Trillian and the other one I can't really just gave up at some point.

> I'm using Pidgin, mostly out of nostalgia, but the default configuration basically can't connect to any mainstream messenger these days (Facebook, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Skype or Viber). Plus the UI is so dated, especially regarding emojis.

Pidgin supports Telegram and Facebook. Well, it did support Facebook, Facebook is constantly changing their API to prevent that.

Someone also wrote a WhatsApp backend.

WhatsApp forced GitHub to take down the code, and sued the dev.

In this modern world, open chat software is impossible.

I have it in my head that Apple started this (or at least gave it the major push to mainstream), with iMessage. My impression is that with a major chat provider with other lock-in (the phone, which has it's own lock in, the app store), Apple was able to provide a good chat experience, add extras hard to do with a more heterogeneous ecosystem (facetime, automatic evasion of SMS fees for iphone-to-iphone messages), and keep the protocol closed without losing too many people.

Google, who was really the main chat in town at that point with gchat, had to either choose to extend XMPP some more or go closed. Closed starts to look really good when you realize that once you have a competitor with Apple's strength, market and lock-in, being open starts being a detriment, since anyone can write a client for your app for any platform, but you still can't support iMessage. Proprietary hangouts chats allow for Google to control where and how their chat platform is used.

What I'm wondering is how much of this I'm getting wrong because I'm not seeing the other forces at work. Anyone have counterpoints or corrections?

i would widen the scope a bit. pidgin is a good example of the modular, open source model that used to be somewhat common in consumer software.

looking back, there certainly seems to be a correlation between the rise of Apple and the death of those kinds of programs. these days it seems like only products that target developers follow that model.

personally though, i think it was the transition to mobile that really did it. almost overnight people's expectations for UI design got way higher, and most of them don't really care about modularity or open source. they just want something that mostly works and looks designed. aesthetic appeal has never the strong point of OSS.

I use Pidgin with Gmail and Slack accounts today, much like I used it with MSN and AIM accounts many years ago.

I use the Hangouts and Slack apps on my Android phone to read scrollback history for the time period when Pidgin is signed off, or to monitor channels in mostly read-only mode while away from my desk.

I find responding via swype infuriating and rarely worth the effort. It leads to very low information content since people use poor grammar and vocabulary when writing on a touch screen and having every third word randomly replaced with something else by the UX.

I use Pidgin for Microsoft Lync chat, in lieu of the official client. It is so much more responsive and lightweight.

In 1998, I built a computer (her first) for my girlfriend so that she and I could chat while I was at work. We've been married 18 years now.

Thanks for the memories, AIM!

I'm in a similar boat. I met my wife on a website with a mutual game interest, and we started chatting on AIM. Come to find out she's not too far from where I lived and I started visiting her once a month. Now we're married.

It's a shame they couldn't open source the original client and server software, would be interesting to preserve.

For reference, AOLserver (https://aolserver.github.io/) is an open source Tcl-scripted _Web_ server.

I had the same thought. Now that it's dead, maybe releasing/leaking the source would be legally defensible as fair use in the name of historical preservation.

The source is pointless. You can build a much better chat system on modern technology in a weekend. The lost value is in their centralized servers with thousands of existing accounts. I'd always thought services like AIM would be replaced by more decentralized systems, but instead we have even more segmented walled garden chat apps where you don't even get to use your own client.

I will say this: XMPP is far from perfect. But I recently came back to it from a five year absence or so, and I must say, it's gotten really good. I set up a server with relatively little difficulty, and since in my circle, it's common to have multiple messengers on the phone anyhow, asking someone: hey, I want to use this other one, wasn't a big hassle.

Conversations for Android is really good, and on iDevice ChatSecure works very well. Much better than what I expected. With filesharing and everthing. And then there's a bunch more that also work, but not of them at the same level of Quality.

Marketshare is super-low of course, but I like that it's possible to use an open protocol.

Just plugging Tox.


Decentralized, DHT-like, no phone numbers.

I've researched all others and Tox is the best choice ATM if you want YOUR data to belong to YOU.

XMPP is not bad but I'm hopeful for matrix-like protocols, which support the decentralized model of operation...thereby hopefully allowing for longer - not so easy to shutdown - shelf life. But the beauty of open protocols is that bridges can be built between xmpp and matrix...so everyone wins!...well, everyone adopting the open stuff. ;-)

I wish the original AOL and CompuServe access clients and the servers could be opened as well.

Really unlikely to ever happen. I tried to get AOL to open source Q-link software from the 80s, when it was a bulletin board for commodore 64s and legal just sat on it for years until i gave up.

Ha! Was just thinking about Q-link this morning. (Though I had to do a Google search just to figure out the name.) I was on it a bit the first few years, uploaded some software I'd written there, and was thinking it would be fun to have it back if the archives are still out there somewhere...

I had one of the coolest experiences with AOL Instant Messenger. I think it was 1998 ... my dad and I could communicate over this new and virtual wave of the future. I could send him a short thought, and like magic, his thoughts would appear back on my screen accompanied by a cool sound. Even though he was all the way across town, I felt very close to my dad that day.

I remember a similar experience when my dad and I tried it out back in the day. We weren't even that far apart but I remember as a 10-12 year old (can't remember exact time) asking him to use it to talk to me from the next room over. I wish I had kept those AIM and other services' messages since they're mostly lost to me due to either the service shutting down, lost passwords, or my own mistake of deleting them around the time he died - in my grief I thought I'd never want to see them again.

It was one of the things that got me into computers. Although it doesn't directly affect my day to day as I no longer use AIM, it was the first place I registered my screen name that I still use everywhere. Yes, my screen name is just my name, but it has significance to me all the same.

I just tried to sign in via Adium and got "Received unexpected response from https://api.screenname.aol.com/auth/clientLogin: Invalid DevId" so I guess it's gone.

When I started using aim, my password was 4 characters, and was a dictionary word, and I never got hacked. I spent days chatting with friends, chasing girls. I feel sad.

By the way it was "took" I thought that's how you spelled tukee (the exotic bird ). Hopefully no one can use this password against me.. Not sure if I ever changed it!

I wasn't sure what bird is that, so I googled for "tukee bird". Google says "Did you mean: turkey bird", but it shows me pictures of toucans. I'm confused.

Lol, apparently I still can't spell it. Is that just a toucan? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixec55yXhKs

I wish I could be omniscient for a few minutes just to know what happened to all the people I've A/S/L'd during childhood. Or maybe I don't want to know - I imagine some of them probably died from old age.

Checking in! I was a huge AIM user. I've had the same screenname since I was 12. Now the only two left in my circle who use it are me and my wife.

I'm really nostalgic about AIM. I met a lot of really cool people on there, but its time is definitely passed. Luckily having used Pidgin for years will make the transition for gchat or something similar pretty seamless.

Still sad, though.

You will be surprised how many died young. :-(

I still used AIM up until today. My friends and I just switched over to a private XMPP server, and we've been using Pidgin/Adium anyway, so it's not a huge change. AIM has been extremely reliable, I've been able to use it on every platform I've ever owned (usually with free software), and it's easy to end-to-end encrypt messages.

My friends and I just never saw a reason to move away from AIM. Everyone just decided to switch to things that were newer for novelty's sake, and transferred their friendships and conversations into non-private, non-free systems. Even Google, which at first used an open protocol, moved to a siloed system while adding nothing of much value (as evidenced by Google's low share of the messaging market). And now to talk to people I have to switch between Google, Skype, Apple, and Facebook, all of whom inter-compatible systems, all of whom reneged on their promises, and none of whom offer me any value whatsoever.

This is not a happy day for me.

You'll still be able to use AIM if you setup a private server? I need to look into this.

As nyolfen mentioned, XMPP is just a competing, decentralized protocol for AIM-like chat. It has a similar feature set and works with most third-party AIM clients.

If you ever get around to making a private OSCAR based server and publish the code somewhere please let us know.

no, xmpp is not aim


On a side note, it would have been great if rather than discontinue AIM, they open sourced it and put it in the hands of the community. It feels somewhat wasteful to close the doors on such an iconic piece of software.

It takes effort (ie $$) to open source software including making sure it doesn’t include libraries or other code licensed from third parties.

I am one of the dozens of daily users that will be effected

As of yesterday, they were sending an announcement every 5 minutes about the impending shutdown. Now when you try to connect, they send the announcement and then disconnect you. I guess they want to see 0 traffic before they pull the plug.

Adium just got disconnected about 1:20am EST and shows an error when trying to connect. Were you using the official client?

End of an era... I remember buying a helio ocean over an original iphone because it had support for AIM.

I had AIM-to-SMS set up so I could keep my chats going even on my flip phone, and then on Windows Mobile even if I didn't have data service. These days I can't even check Facebook unless I have LTE, if the phone says 4G I know I have no service.

Man how things change.

LTE equals 4G.

No what the parent says actually happens to me too. If the sign says 4g it means there is no data service. When it shows LTE or LTE+ then the data actually works.

Second this!

4G basically means 'expect nothing' for me.

LTE is an extension to 4G. That said, I'm pretty sure he meant 3G.

So I'm an iPhone user as well, and what he said is correct. The phone normally displays LTE when full LTE service is available. In my experience. when you're in a normal LTE area, the 4G display usually indicates a really bad signal, as in it can't establish a full LTE connection, so it's trying to fall back to an old protocol, and thus your data performance is really bad.

I meant 4G just like I said. If my iPhone shows LTE, I'm good. If it show 4G, I have nothing.

In the U.S., at least on AT&T, there is a difference between 4G and LTE. When my iPhone 6S+ switches the indicator from LTE to 4G, the data speeds are many times slower.

meanwhile slack grows and requires a much heavier desktop client, and people use fb chat like wildfire

clearly the issue is product mismanagement rather than cultural shifts away from 'this type of service'

I don't think it was mismanagement - chat followed where people stored their identities online. One's online identity was for many years their aol screen name - now, for many, it's facebook.

Well this was the actual only way of contacting one person I knew back from my counterstrike days. CSMario who invented surf maps in counterstrike if you're out there, drop me a line!

While I haven't used AIM in ages, I remember it fondly. There was a cool addon/hack for AIM that gave it more functionality such as combining all chats into one window and the ability to adjust the windows so that you could see through them. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? If you do, do you remember the name of the addon/hack?

DeadAIM [1] was one such hack. I remember it also provided the ability to manually change your status to anything, including invisible.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeadAIM

That's exactly what I was looking for, thanks! I remember that hack fondly. It made things so much easier.

When AOL bought ICQ, there was a lot of concern that they were cornering the IM market. And now AIM is dead.

I tried to login with several of my old accounts months ago, but they blocked the reset password option.

A few months ago I was playing around windows 98 in VM for fun. I installed an old version of Netscape that had AIM integration built right in. It still worked perfectly, and I even was able to talk to a few high school buddies.



Toying with the idea of building "SAIM", an AIM clone (As close as we can without getting sued by AOL). Anyone want to team up?

I suspect that if AOL still cares about their AIM trademark, "SAIM" would be too close.

Pidgin was originally called "GAIM".



List of product deaths of the 90s this year:

1. Hotmail.com

2. Half.com

3. AIM

4. ?

Rest easy old friends

Hotmail died this year? How?

It didn't, it became outlook.

A fate worse than death.

It became Outlook like five years ago, unless I missed something.

Yeah I don't know what that dude was talking about. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

First it became live.com

Where does "MSN" and "Passport" fit in this orgy?


Hotmail - young rebellious teenager with 2 MB of storage

Live - "experimenting" phase, "monopoly conviction? I do not recall!"

Outlook - Older YUP, approaching middle age, quite cynical, but still might change, albeit with reluctance and complete lack of enthusiasm

Passport was what is now your Microsoft account (aka .NET account, Live Account, etc)

For a while hotmail was MSN hotmail and Windows Live Messenger was previously MSN messenger. Now MSN is just Microsoft's portal page.

I nearly crapped myself. I thought it meant the London AIM stock market (bang go my investments!).

I remember when my friend introduced me to AIM (and “instant messaging”) in the 90s.

“It’s like email, but faster”

good i've been locked out of my account since 2002 anyway. my poor neopets are starving

Has it already been pulled? I was hoping to do something tonight before it was shut down.

Remembers 90's when I would hooked on AIM to chat and make friends....make me cry

Goodbye AIM, you were the catalyst to my Information Security career. Good times.

Rolecall for your former screen name. Mine was:


Shows what age I was during peak of AIM.

That's a last minute warning...

I never used AIM... is ICQ still being used...

They posted about it over a month ago (perhaps up to three), and if you used it you were getting regular pings about its upcoming demise.

As for ICQ, last I knew a Russian company bought it from AOL and it is still operational.

Press F to Pay Respects

The end of an era.

Anyone else having troulbe connecting to ICQ?




You see what happens when you repeal title II!?!!

too soon?

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