December 12, 2019
chat bubble neon signage

From Time-Sharing up to Free Chat Now: History of Instant Messaging

Let’s consider ourselves lucky. Millennials are now experiencing a free chat now. No more waiting. No expensive fees. A few clicks here and there, and you’re already connected with someone.

This all came from years of research and implementation of various messaging systems.

Everyone believed that online messaging entered the sphere by the 1990s. But it actually started by the mid-1960s.

The 1960s – 1980s: Beginning of the Instant Messaging Era

Before the concept of free chat now, messaging online started as early as the mid-1960s.

It began with multi-user operating systems such as the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS). Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s computation center created it in 1961. By that time, it allowed 30 users to log-in and simultaneously send messages to each other.

After this milestone, programmers worked on a peer-to-peer protocol by the 1970s. This allowed universities and research labs to communicate through the same computer.

By the 1980s, MIT built Zephyr Notification Service through Project Athena. It used Unix to locate and send messages to its users. It’s also time when the Bulletin Board System (BBS) got created too. It’s a system that allows users to use a terminal program to upload and download software. It’s also used to exchange direct messages with other users.

Commodore 64 PC was then released by 1982. It included an Internet Service named Quantum Link. This became known as America Online or AOL in the ‘90s. Quantum Link users then have to pay a monthly fee to send text-based messages to each other via modem.

The 1990s: Online Chat Rises to Popularity

As time went on, various programmers continued to work on the project with regards to online chat. A company named Mirabilis launched ICQ, a text-based messenger. This was the first system that managed to reach widespread use. ICQ allowed online chats between users, file transfers and other features. Later on, Digital Sky Technologies then acquired Mirabilis.

ICQ brought new horizons on providing convenient messaging to its users. But the peak of happened in the 1990s is when AOL launched AIM, one of the sites where free chat now is inspired from.

AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) is the most popular social chatting platform at that time. This messenger allowed users to send online messages to each other. It also includes user profiles and icons to attract more people to be on your Buddy List. With those hip features, it’s no question that AOL has garnered millions of followers until 2005.

Meanwhile, Yahoo launched Yahoo! Messenger by 1998. Pidgin (also known as “Gaim”) got launched in 1998. Microsoft also released MSN Messenger in 1999.

The 2000s: Online Messaging Before Social Media Took Over

Despite the popular messengers by this time, people took notice of online chat tools as well. One of those tools is Jabber. It’s a multi-protocol messenger that allows users to chat from different online messengers. Included messengers are AIM, Yahoo, and MSN.

Meanwhile, by 2002, Apple developed iChat or iChat AV for its Mac OS X Operating System. Users were then allowed to integrate their address books and Apple Mail from AIM.

Then we have Skype, which was then founded by 2003. It was the game changer. Aside from chats, Skype can call and video call through the use of the internet.

Meebo also began in the Early 2000s. It started in 2005 as an online chat provider accessed via a web browser.

2005 was also the year that Google released Google Chat, or most known as Google Talk. It’s available in various web, native, and mobile applications. It has always appeared in Gmail user’s window, making it easy to acesss for Gmail users. Google chat has various features, which include chats, voice calls, and video conferences.

Present Time: Free Chat Now Integrating with Social Media

In the present time, various social media sites added social chatting into the mix.

By 2006, Myspace, a once known social media site, has developed MySpaceIM. It was the first social media platform that added online chatting as one of its features. With this, users can send online messages to friends on their desktops.

Facebook then released Facebook Chat in 2008. Users can send instant messages on their friends or group of friends (group chat).

By 2011, Facebook then announced that they’re including video messaging. Facebook also released the mobile app Facebook Messenger. This brought more messaging-oriented features, and is now leading on messaging apps.

Video Calls, Online Group texts, Free Chat Apps– what now?

Free chat now is no longer just sending and receiving text messages. Stickers, gifs, emojis, even mini-games are now included on these apps.

It’s fascinating how we started simple, and now we can communicate across the globe by a few clicks.

With chatting apps having new trends every day, it’s expected now that these free chat apps will improve.

But until that major change happens, let’s be patient and continue chatting responsibly.