It's the end of an era.

By Priyanka Aribindi
Updated October 06, 2017

When it comes to the 90s, some of our favorite trends have made remarkable resurgences, but sadly, others haven’t fared so well. Unfortunately for fans of buddy icons and friends lists, AIM has the latter fate.

It’s a sad day for anyone who remembers spending hours in front of their computer screen as a child (or teen or young adult) exchanging messages with their friends over AIM. After 20 years, AOL announced that its instant messaging service, AOL Instant Messenger, is shutting down once and for all on December 15, 2017.

From screen names and chat rooms to (often multicolored) profiles and elaborate away messages, AIM was responsible for introducing many people to concepts that now fuel a mix of nostalgia and embarrassment (find me someone who doesn’t cringe at their very first screen name!), and the service gave countless kids and teens their first opportunities to use the Internet to socialize.

Its introduction came prior to the widespread proliferation of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp and GroupMe, and was a de facto method of informal digital communication for young people around the world.

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Back in AIM’s heyday (in the late 90s to early 2000s), people hadn’t even been introduced to the first iPod, let alone the iPhone, which would introduce widespread text messaging and revolutionize online communication. That transformation ultimately led to the decline of AIM and other chat apps, such as MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

Even though it’s been years since we’ve made a profile update or added someone to our buddy list, seeing AIM sign off for good still leaves us with some sadness and nostalgia.