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

Microsoft’s trailblazing Windows 95 was barely a 12 months outdated, Nintendo had simply launched the N64, and people with a purpose to have a cellphone really used it to speak on.

Launched after lower than two months of growth from Israeli firm Mirabilis, it predated and influenced lots of the standard 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 opponents. AIM shut down final December, Yahoo’s communications program bit the bullet in mid-2018 and Microsoft laid its Messenger shopper to relaxation in 2014.

ICQ provided numerous progressive 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 in some way nonetheless bear in mind mine by coronary heart some 20 years later), together with customized handles and an connected e-mail handle, have been used to seek for different customers on the platform.

Mirabilis loved first-mover benefit, attracting hundreds of 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 thing of Mirabilis’ belongings 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 cell units. AOL should have noticed the writing on the wall because it offloaded ICQ to Russian funding agency Digital Sky Technologies (at the moment often called Mail.ru Group) in 2010 for $187.5 million.

What Ever Happened to ICQ?

Some could also be shocked to study that ICQ continues to be round and is being actively developed. The newest steady 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 fundamental UI of yesteryear with a contemporary design and acquainted options like safe video calls and stickers. The core performance – the power to speak with family and friends – stays.

According to Mail.ru, the moment messaging platform is utilized by 11 million folks worldwide every month. Sure, it’s not practically as standard because it as soon as was but it surely’s nonetheless round and that’s greater than most of its early opponents can say. If you’re all in favour of reconnecting with outdated contacts or wish to uncover it for the primary time, ICQ is accessible to obtain for Windows and Mac in addition to Android and iOS cell units.

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