AOL has announced that AIM, once known as AOL Instant Messenger, will be shut down after two decades in existence. The AIM shutdown won’t happen until December though, so if you’re in the mood for some nostalgia, you can hop back on there for about the next couple of months.
AOL announced on its website today that AIM and all other AOL Instant Messenger products and services will stop working on Dec. 15. However, if you’re wanting to download it, you’ll need to do so quickly because AOL said it will start removing the download links even before the AIM shutdown is permanent. AIM was the first chat app of its kind, and AOL, then America Online, rolled it out in 1997.
I know I’m dating myself here, but just writing this article makes me a little sad because AIM is one of my first memories of the Internet. Then again, the AIM shutdown is happening because people eventually stopped using it, which is what happens with all forms of technology.
We spent a lot of time on AOL Instant Messenger in those days, so the AIM shutdown is sort of like a sign of the times and how much they change. In a way, it’s a bit surprising that the app even lasted for 20 years because so much of technology does not. I was a little surprised when I learned recently that some companies still offer dial-up internet, which AOL, then America Online, was the poster child of at that time.
AOL published a FAQs page about the AIM shutdown today, and the very first question is about why it’s being shuttered. The company has given the most non-committal, corporate type of response you can expect to a question like that, and it’s not even worth including the answer here.
In reality, this probably has something to do with Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo, which had bought AOL previously, if you haven’t been keeping track. Over the summer, media reports indicated that Verizon planned to slash about 15% of the AOL/ Yahoo team, and those job cuts had to come from somewhere. Now it seems like the AIM shutdown is part of it. What’s left of AOL and Yahoo is being rebranded as Oath, a Verizon subsidiary.
AOL said it isn’t planning a replacement product for AIM. The company will keep the @aim.com email addresses in operation, so if you’re using one of those, you’re safe to keep using it. Users will not be able to save their Buddy Lists from AIM, and all data from the chat app will be deleted after Dec. 15.
Those who want to save their images and files before that date can do so manually. Just sign into the AIM client and then open a chat with one of your buddies. From there, you can scroll through the chat history to find any files you want to save. Just click the file or image, and it will open in a new window or browser tab. Just right-click on it and choose “save.”