Ready, AIM, fired

AIM, the groundbreaking instant-messenger service from AOL, will be buried on Dec. 15, 2017.

I relied heavily on AOL when I went freelance back in 1991, and used its instant messenger religiously once it became a thing. It was lots cheaper than long-distance calls on our landline — remember those? — and thus the far-flung crew that assembled the Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling whose name eludes me relied upon it to stay in touch from their various corners of the globe.

Today, the only person I still “chat” with via AIM is Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey, a PC geek. Most of my chat pals these days are Mac users, and we stay in touch via Apple’s Messages app or simple texts.

And when it comes to assembling the fake news, your modern rumormonger uses an entirely different toolbox, as John Branch of The New York Times explains.

Any number of alternatives to AIM sprang up over the years, but I expect the main suspect in this murder most foul is Facebook. Just one more reason to steer clear of that outfit.

A eulogy for AIM from Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic.

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12 Responses to “Ready, AIM, fired”

  1. ryansubike Says:

    I will make a note on my Newton

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ah, those were the days. Remember the eMate? eWorld? CompuServe? Prodigy? Delphi? We all thought we were so hep with our Hayes 2400 modems and our 8MHz Motorola 68000 chips.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Landlines? Yea, we still have one to the delight of boiler room tele-marketers. They’re the only people left that I can play the dozens with without getting my ass kicked.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        We still had a landline and a rotary-dial, wall-mounted, mustard-yellow handset in The House Back East®. Alas, the sales contract was as-is, and thus the new owners have it in their clutches as of this morning, leaving me to the tender mercies of my iPhone 5.

        • Pat O'Brien Says:

          It’s a beauty!

        • larryatcycleitalia Says:

          The CycleItalia office still has a landline, increasingly used only by various robots to annoy me. We’ll probably keep it until we move to Italy. Meanwhile, I’m in the process of ditching my antique, cheapo, Carlos Slim flip-phone for one o’ them “SMART” kind..but I dunno if I’ll be smart enough to operate it. I’ll get the same kind as the wife so we can share the chargers — and she can school me on how it works!

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          Good Lord, Larry’s going all in on a smartphone. These are truly dire portents of the End Times.

          • larryatcycleitalia Says:

            Scary, eh? But I’m only paying $150 for a refurbished one via ebay and shoving my pay-as-you-go Carlos Slim chip in for the US and a pay-as-you-go TIM chip for Italy. Question is, will I be smart enough to operate the damn thing? Stay tuned.

      • Dale Says:

        We still have the land line and DSL as well as one flip phone and two smart phones. The basic land line is free She who must be obeyed worked for them for 35 years so we get the basic phone for free.

        I on the other hand, worked for a victim of the Comcast juggernaut and will never buy a single service from them.

        My son (grad student at home) complains about DSL speed or lack thereof. I tell him to suck it up or buy his own Comcast account.

  2. canamsteve Says:

    Wow. As a pretty-early AOL user I had no idea AIM still existed. Not that I ever used it – or really any IM service other than Apple’s as it dovetailed with SMS. OK, I do use FaceBook’s, but I can’t understand why they split it out of the FB app in a very clunky way (still sorta integrated on desktop, separate on mobile). And yes, I’ve three WhatsApp accounts (since I have three different cellphone contracts in three countries) and isn’t *that* a PITA…

    Just email me if you need me

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Email? Isn’t that so 15 minutes ago? (Yeah, I know, I still rely on it too.)

      How d’ye like WhatsApp? Pelkey and I need to stay in touch with a few pals across the water.

      I may still have email accounts with AOL/AIM. And Yahoo, too, though I expect the pirates have long since absconded with that one. God only knows where I or someone pretending to be me may be found online these days.

      • canamsteve Says:

        WhatsApp is OK, but as I mentioned, it is tied to your phone. Many of us International Men of Mystery pick up a local simcard in-country for cheap data and then you have to set up WhatsApp again – and when you move on people are still trying to use the old contact #. So OK for static users, less so if you use multiple #s.

        But really, email is delivered in a few seconds. And of course IM apps are sortof “synchronous” meaning the other person has to be awake and available. So as you get away from same-timezone conversations, it becomes less useful. If you do business with Asia from NA, someone is up at odd hours for IM. I actually prefer email – send it and if you get a reply immediately, you can get into an IM type exchange. But there is less pressure to respond immediately. Sometimes you are IMing with someone and you really need to get away…

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