1st Chat/IM


Chat software, or instant messaging software as it later came to be known, allows computer users to exchange short textual messages. Unlike email, the software assumes that a to-and-fro interaction takes place between the people involved.

Modern instant messaging systems have expanded functionality, as can be seen with the popular Skype and Yahoo! Messenger services, and the IBM Lotus Sametime software product.

We believe, but are not certain, that the first chat/instant messages were sent in about 1965, probably on MIT’s CTSS. Further input welcomed from visitors!

Early chat/instant messaging systems included:

  • Talk, used over the ARPANET
  • Software based on the Internet Relay Chat/IRC protocol
  • AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), launched in 1997

–David Ferris

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