G2G! AOL Instant Messenger is shutting down after 20 years

Cara McGoogan
AOL's AIM has been around since 1997 - AOL /Twitter

Another icon of the internet era has been consigned to the tech graveyard: AOL is killing of its instant messenger, AIM. 

The 20-year-old messaging service will be remembered by many for its yellow running man and incoming message sounds. 

AIM was pivotal in ushering in the era of internetspeak, such as "brb" "lol" and "g2g". It also kickstarted a form of instant communication that would come to dominate for the next two decades, paving the way for the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. 

But in a couple of months' time it will be discontinued for good. 

"If you were a 90's kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life," said Michael Albers, head of communications products at Oath. "You likely remember the CD, your first screen name, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organised your buddy lists."

The image of the yellow running man was synonymous with AIM Credit: AOL

He added: "AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed. As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017."

Users will be able to log in to their AIM account and download their messages until December 15, when Oath will pull the plug on the service. 

AIM was popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, alongside the likes of MSN Messenger and Habbo Hotel. Such services were soon replaced by social media and other messaging platforms after the launch of Facebook and the iPhone. 

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Microsoft shut down the rival MSN Messenger in 2013, and encouraged any remaining users to switch to Skype, which it had acquired the year before. More popular among British users than AIM, MSN Messenger was once the UK's most visited website.