Beloved online chat app AOL Instant Messenger died on Friday, USA Today reports. It was 20 years old.
The news isn't exactly a surprise. AOL announced it would shutter AIM back in October, and the chat application has long been abandoned by the general population, which fled to new chat apps like Messenger, Gchat, Slack, and WhatsApp. But the loss still tugs at the heartstrings of every millennial who's long tried to forget their embarrassing first screen name. Now, AIM will live on in the land of the eternal away message, where it can finally reunite with the defunct AIMbot, SmarterChild
"If you were a 90s kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life. You likely remember the CD, your first screen name, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists," Michael Albers, VP of communications product at Oath—Verizon's entity that owns AOL—wrote in the October announcement.
"AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed," Albers continued.
The iconic messenger program first launched in 1997, in those halcyon pre-social media days of yore, and quickly became the go-to mode of communication for a generation of awkward tweens aching to interact through the safety of a computer screen. AIM filled our young world with buddy icons, chat rooms, fake identities, and the awkward joys of cybersex—and helped shape our youthful sexualities in the process—at least until MySpace came along.
The buddy lists and screen names and sounds that still trigger deep-rooted Pavlovian responses may be gone, but one piece of the messenger still lives on: BadassBuddy, the best spot for buddy icons on the web, is still up and running, so feel free to pay tribute to the fall of AIM by watching a small pixelated cartoon character hassle old people or whatever, one last time.
Godspeed, AIM. We may have left you for other chat apps, all younger and better and sleeker than you, but your small yellow humanoid logo will always have a special place in our hearts. Goodbye forever.