ICQ instant messenger will shut down after 27 years!

ICQ instant messenger will shut down after 27 years!


28 May 2024

ICQ, an instant messaging service that was once immensely popular in the United States and other areas of the world during the early days of the consumer PC internet, is officially shutting down. The official ICQ website now informs users that the service will cease operations on June 26.

Mirabilis, based in Israel, originally released ICQ in November 1996. In a 2003 interview with Israel21c, Yair Goldfinger, one of the company's co-founders, stated that he and two friends developed the idea for ICQ (which stands for "I Seek You") in about two months. Goldfinger's father invested a few hundred thousand dollars in the group.

While the ICQ application was built in Israel, the Mirabilis founders debuted the service in a modest apartment in San Jose, California, since, according to Goldfinger, internet access in the United States was less expensive.

ICQ quickly gained popularity as a PC application. After launching for free in November 1996, ICQ had 850,000 users in May 1997 and nine million by April 1998, with 2.5 million using it every day.

It's easy to understand why. ICQ concentrated on one-on-one chats rather than group chats, which are available on services such as AOL and even IRC. ICQ undoubtedly inspired subsequent chat and messaging services, including AIM, which started around six months later.

Indeed, AIM's owner, AOL, eventually purchased Mirabilis and ICQ in June 1998 for $287 million, with an extra $120 million to be paid if certain targets were met. By 2001, ICQ had achieved its peak of 100 million registered users.

As alternative instant messaging systems, and later social networks like Twitter and Facebook, became more popular, many users in the United States and other areas of the world abandoned ICQ. In 2010, AOL sold ICQ to Russia's Digital Sky Technologies for $187 million, while the program was still popular.

The company was eventually rebranded VK, and this week's ICQ termination statement advised users to migrate to either VK Messenger or VK WorkSpace. It will be a peaceful end for ICQ, but it had a significant impact on online messaging and communication, which continues to affect other services.

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