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A "Quantum" Leap for AIM

From Quantum Link to AOL Instant Messaging (AIM)


In August, 1982, Commodore International released an 8-bit PC that would revolutionize not only the computer world, but the next generation of IM. The Commodore 64, which sold more than 30 million units making it the best-selling single PC model of all time, offered home users the opportunity to become accustomed to electronic computing with over 10,000 commercial software titles, including the primative Internet service, Quantum Link.

Using a text-based system called PETSCII, users could send online messages to each other via a telephone modem and the Quantum Link service. Without the graphic processors or advanced video cards of today, an early Internet user's instant messaging experience wasn't too exciting; after sending an online message, the user on the receiving end would see a yellow stripe across the Quantum software signaling they had received a message from another user. That user then had the option of responding or ignoring the message.

Online messages were not standard with the Q-Link service, however, and resulted in an additional per-minute fee when users were billed for their monthly service cost.

In the 90s, Quantum Link changed its name to America Online, and helped usher in a new era of IM. While ICQ, a text-based messenger, became the first to market itself to the masses in 1996, the debut of AIM in 1997 became a turning point for the industry as thousands of largely young, tech-savvy users leaped at the opportunity to share instant messages with each other. Yahoo launched its own Yahoo! Messenger in 1998, followed by MSN in 1999, and a host of others throughout the 2000s. Google Talk was released in 2005.

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