ICQ, brief for the phrase “I Seek You,” laid the groundwork for standalone instantaneous messaging purchasers when it arrived in November 1996. Think about how way back that was…

Microsoft’s trailblazing Windows 95 was barely a yr outdated, Nintendo had simply launched the N64, and people with a purpose to have a cellular phone really used it to speak on.

Launched after lower than two months of growth from Israeli firm Mirabilis, it predated and influenced most of the widespread chat applications of the period together with AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger.

What Ever Happened to ICQ?

Incredibly sufficient, ICQ has additionally outlasted its chief rivals. AIM shut down final December, Yahoo’s communications program bit the bullet in mid-2018 and Microsoft laid its Messenger consumer to relaxation in 2014.

ICQ supplied quite a few modern options together with multi-user chat, async offline messaging, resumable file transfers and a searchable listing. Users have been issued a novel User Identification Number, or UIN, upon registration. This quantity (I one way or the other nonetheless keep in mind mine by coronary heart some 20 years later), together with customized handles and an hooked up e-mail tackle, have been used to seek for different customers on the platform.

Mirabilis loved first-mover benefit, attracting thousands and thousands of early Internet customers enticed by the proposition of chatting with family and friends in real-time. ICQ’s success additionally captivated potential suitors, prompting AOL to ink a check to the tune of $287 million for the whole lot of Mirabilis’ property in 1998. Contingency funds that began in fiscal 2001 reportedly totaled an extra $120 million, pushing the entire worth of the deal over $400 million.

America Online would handle to develop ICQ’s consumer base tenfold over the subsequent three years, surpassing more than 100 million registered users by the spring of 2001.

The coming decade would once more reinvent private communication, driving conversations from mouse and keyboard to cellular units. AOL should have noticed the writing on the wall because it offloaded ICQ to Russian funding agency Digital Sky Technologies (at this time generally known as Mail.ru Group) in 2010 for $187.5 million.

What Ever Happened to ICQ?

Some could also be shocked to study that ICQ remains to be round and is being actively developed. The newest secure launch in desktop was two months in the past, model 10.0.36981, whereas Android and iOS apps have been up to date within the final month. Today’s ICQ is a far cry from the essential UI of yesteryear with a contemporary design and acquainted options like safe video calls and stickers. The core performance – the power to chat with family and friends – stays.

According to Mail.ru, the moment messaging platform is utilized by 11 million individuals worldwide every month. Sure, it’s not almost as widespread because it as soon as was nevertheless it’s nonetheless round and that’s greater than most of its early rivals can say. If you’re focused on reconnecting with outdated contacts or need to uncover it for the primary time, ICQ is accessible to obtain for Windows and Mac in addition to Android and iOS cellular units.

This article was initially printed in December 23, 2018. We’ve since revised and bumped it as a part of our #ThrowbackThursday initiative.