Graduate School of Library and Information Science, UT Austin

LIS 312
Information in Cyberspace Online
Internet Communication Module
Instant Messaging


Instant Messaging
What is IM?
History of IM
How it works
AOL Instant Messenger
MSN Messenger
  Yahoo! Messenger
  Future of Instant Messenging
Key Concepts
ICM Homepage
Tutorial Junction
IT Services
Site Tools
Site Map
Contact Info

History of Instant Messaging

Instant messaging was created in July of 1996 by 4 young Israeli avid-computer users. Yair Goldfinger (26,Chief Technology Officer), Arik Vardi (27,Chief Executive Officer), Sefi Vigiser (25,President), and Amnon Amir (24), started a company called Mirabilis in order to introduce a new way of communication over the Internet.

These guys realized that millions of people were connecting to the Internet to use the World Wide Web, but these users were not interconnected. They created a technology which would enable Internet users to locate each other online on the Internet, and to create peer-to-peer communication channels easily. They called their technology ICQ, (I seek you). and released it in November of 1996.

Within 6 months, by "word of mouse", 850,000 users had been registered by Mirabilis. By June of 1997, Mirabilis was able to handle 100,000 concurrent users and had become the largest Internet communications network.

Success of this magnitude with a new communication technology did not go unnoticed, and Mirabilis and ICQ were acquired by America Online in June of 1998 for $287 million.AOL had also created it's own Instant Messanger system.

Microsoft had also created its own Instant Messaging client and service, MSN Messanger, and another Internet heavyweight, Yahoo! created one as well.

Because IM services evolved from propriatry systems created by companies to make a profit, their systems remain unable to interoperate because of the desire to control the IM market. AOL and ICQ, even though they are owned by the same company, are not interoperable. The AOL and ICQ clients cannot communicate with one another, and AOL maintains both systems and market dominance in the IM field.

All this may change soon. Conditions of the AOL-Time Warner merger require AOL to open up its IM systems. Several competing companies have joined together to to advocate for an IM protocol similar to those that allow the interoperability of email systems.

Other companies have taken a different approach rather than wait for an agreed-upon standard. Jabber is one company that has created a client program capable of communicating with various IM systems.


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