Before there were Facebook stories or Instagram models or even Twitter handles, an entire generation expressed itself through AIM screen names.
AOL Instant Messenger, which launched in spring 1997, was, for many, the first foray into what would eventually become the world of social media. Through the mid-2000s, screen names were how millennials defined their friends, classmates and coworkers.
AIM’s popularity died down, making way for the likes of Myspace, Facebook and the other major social media platforms that have since changed the way we communicate. On Friday, AOL (now called Oath) is finally pulling the plug on its flagship chat platform.
There’s always been something sweetly nostalgic about AIM. Beyond the humiliating screen names (mine was bubbles723, chosen to reflect the nickname of my favorite Cheetah Girl), were the perfectly curated “buddy lists” of every person in school or at work. And then there were the often angst-ridden “away” messages that were basically the original subtweet.
AIM gave us 20 years of magic. (Yes, you can save your chat history before then. Directions here.)