On May of 1997, the then-internet heavyweight America Online launched what was at the time a revolutionary way of communication: online, which was a novel concept in those days. AOL Instant Messaging, further shortened into AIM, became a trendy way for internet users to keep in touch with acquaintances and indicator for when a person is active in the internet. The popularity of AIM diminished when cellphones, then smartphones, started having messaging capabilities, and plummeted further with the advent of Facebook and Twitter. Come December 2017, AOL’s parent company Verizon shut down AIM, ending its legendary service. Or was it?
USA Today reports that, about half a year since the AOL Instant Messaging system came to an emotional close, the plucky (and now-simplistic) communications platform is apparently back online. And it is the exact same AIM program, in the latest version (before shutdown) that was run by AOL for so many years. The surprise however, is that AOL – or rather Verizon – is not behind this revival of AIM as “AIM Phoenix”. Rather, the discontinued service has been picked up for operation by a non-profit game development startup, Wildman Productions, which is not connected to AOL or to its parent company.
That is some good nostalgic news for internet messaging old-timers, yes? Not so fast. When Wildman Productions took over the running of AIM, they had the platform start over from scratch. That means all original-AIM users will have to sign up for the service all over again, as their old accounts were lost with the old shutdown. But if you are just that dedicated of a user for this pioneering platform, then you would best hurry to register on Wildman-run AIM Phoenix, perhaps using your old alphanumeric username that looked so awesome in the early days of internet instant messaging.
For users whose interest have been piqued in using AOL Instant Messaging (for some of them, again) then they can download their choice of AIM client from Wildman Productions’ official AIM Phoenix website. It is all in there from version 1.0 to AIM Lite. Once installed to their computers, nostalgia- or curiosity-driven users can sign on for a new account in order to log into the venerable old messaging platform. When using AIM Lite (Phoenix), users even get to select from nine design themes, one of the last visual overhauls for AIM in the dwindling days of its original run.
Image courtesy of YouTube