A Brief History of Instant Messaging Software 1970-2005

  • Peer-to-peer protocol developed

    Developers create peer-to-peer protocol, allowing users to send and receive private messages from others logging in to the same computer. Later versions allowed users to contact each other in real-time over a local network.
  • Quantum Link for Commodore 64 released - online messaging with a 'per minute' fee

    Quantum Link, a software package for the Commodore 64 computer, allows users to send online messages for an additional per-minute fee.
  • "Talk" developed by student Mark Jenks, first generation e-mail boxes

    Washington High School student Mark Jenks creates "Talk," giving students and teachers the opportunity to communicate through digital messaging boards and first-generation e-mail boxes.
  • IRC developed by Jarkko Oikarinen

    Internet Relay Chat is created by Jarkko Oikarinen, giving the world a means to communicate through text-based messaging in multi-user groups called "channels."
  • Quantum Link becomes AOL, development of AIM begins

    Quantum Link changes its name to America Online; begins development of AOL software, including AIM.
  • ICQ released - real time messages via internet

    Mirabilis releases ICQ, which allows users to send real-time instant messages over the Internet.
  • AIM Debut - IM, chat, and file sharing available to users

    AIM debuts, featuring IM, chatrooms and file sharing capabilities.
  • Yahoo! Pager released - 'Block' feature introduced

    Yahoo! Pager launches; new IM features include buddy alerts, the ability to block unwanted contacts and greater profile personalization options.
  • AOL Purchases Mirabilis - ICQ becomes AOL product

    AOL acquires Mirabilis for $407 million, placing ICQ under the AOL family of products.
  • MSN Messenger released

    Windows launches MSN Messenger, featuring simple IM capabilities, a contact list and access to AIM buddies.
  • "Jabber" released - users can see all contact lists within one client

    The multi-protocol IM client Jabber launches, allowing IM users to access all their buddy lists within one client for the first time.
  • "Trillian" released - allowed users to chat across multiple protocols within one client

    Trillian, a multi-protocol IM, gives users the ability to chat with friends on AIM, ICQ and MSN Messenger within one client, in addition to giving the buddy list greater organization through color coding.
  • "Google Talk" released - IM, Contact lists, and integration with Gmail

    Google launches Google Talk, featuring IM capabilities, contact lists and interoperability within Gmail.
  • MSN Messenger becomes Windows Live Messenger

    MSN Messenger changes its name to Windows Live Messenger, offering offline messaging, stronger search capabilities, a modified contact list and greater personalization options.