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Founded in 2003, Skype allows Internet users to communicate with others through video, voice and instant messaging.The instant messaging aspect of the service, while perhaps not its most popular function compared to video conferences, is used by many.From ICQ to AIM, Google Chat to Facebook Chat, Internet users have been able to send messages to each other instantaneously for years. Instant messaging has been an evolving idea for a long time, so it's somewhat difficult to pinpoint its origin.In fact, did you know that instant messaging, or at least an early form of the concept, actually predates the World Wide Web?Q-Link users could pay a monthly fee to send text-based messages to others via modem, and the receiver had the option of responding to or ignoring the messages.Compu Serve's CB Simulator, created in 1980 to simulate citizens band radio through text-based messages and user handles, is considered the first service dedicated to online chat.
The system, which is perhaps closer to what we now think of as email, had hundreds of registered users from MIT and other New England colleges by 1965.
Like the services before it, AIM allowed users to send messages to each other, and included user profiles, away messages and icons for more engagement.
With AIM also came the development of different bots, such as Study Buddy and Smarter Child (which have since been retired), with whom users could interact. Messenger included customized "IMVironments," address book integration and custom status messages. Pidgin, founded as "Gaim" in 1998 as an open-source instant messaging client, allowed users to reach contacts on several operating systems.
By 2005, AIM dominated the instant messaging market with 53 million users. In 2007, it was estimated that Pidgin had 3 million users. A press release from its launch read, "MSN Messenger Service tells consumers when their friends, family and colleagues are online and enables them to exchange online messages and email with the more than 40 million users of the MSN Hotmail TM Web-based email service as well as with people using AOL Instant Messenger." Microsoft renamed the service Windows Live Messenger in 2005, adding photo sharing capabilities, social network integration and games.
Chat rooms, in which multiple people could IM with each other, were another popular AOL feature. Messenger in 1998, originally under the name Yahoo! In 2009, the company announced more than 330 million active users every month.