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The Beginning, Middle, Present and Future of Instant Messaging

[ 1 ] Posted by on June 13, 2018

History of Instant Messaging

We all want immediate answers in our modern, tech-driven world. And that’s why we love instant messaging – because sometimes, let’s be honest, a text or phone call just takes too long.

As our need for speed becomes more and more marked, individuals and businesses all over the planet are turning to some form of instant messaging to get those fast answers that aren’t always so forthcoming over email. But this is no new technology – instant messaging actually predates most of our other favourite forms of modern communication. Except for actually speaking to someone using our voices. But who has time for that?!

In fact, the concept of instant messaging dates back to the 1960s – predating the internet itself – and rendering your favourite super savvy communication tool positively Stone Age in tech terms. If you’re wondering what wizardry made this feat possible, read on to find out more about the history of the humble instant message.

The beginning

Commodore 64

Above: Commodore 64

Multi-user operating systems, generally created for a business or university, would allow a number of users to log in at one time and send messages to each other, resulting in something closely resembling modern email. In the 1970s, peer-to-peer protocol was developed in universities and research labs, allowing communication between users of the same computer.

The 80s saw interest turn towards the bulletin board system – known as BBS – allowing users to exchange messages with others and upload and download software using a central programme.

Instant messaging started slowly filtering through to the masses in 1982, after the release of the now iconic Commodore 64 PC. This consumer favourite included an internet service known as Q-Link (Quantum Link), where users could pay a monthly fee to send messages to other computers via the modem.

The middle

MSN Messenger

Above: MSN Messenger

In the 90s, Q-Link matured to become the internet service many of us associate with the start of the instant messaging revolution – America Online. However, it wasn’t really until 1997 and the launch of AOL’s AIM that instant messaging was brought to a widespread market of users – teaching a whole generation how to speak in acronyms that would continue to elude their parents for years to come. LOL.

With a flurry of messaging services following in the late 90’s – Yahoo! Messenger, Pidgin and MSN Messenger to name but a few – instant messaging became an integral part of life for hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

Heading into the 2000’s, tech giants such as Apple and Google emerged with their own instant messaging options, allowing for easy communication between users of Apple devices and Gmail. In 2003, Skype burst onto the scene, taking internet communication to the next level. As well as instant messaging, free voice chat and video calls were now available, bringing people from all four corners of the world closer together.

The present

Skype Mobile

Above: Skype for iPhone 5

With the onslaught of social media and smartphones, Google, MySpace and Facebook have all emerged in recent years with integrated instant messaging services, enhancing the convenience of social networks as a fully rounded communication tool. With more and more people expecting full functionality on the go, instant messaging, phone calls and video chats for mobile have launched, allowing users to stay truly connected to everything in their world, wherever they may be in it.

The future?

So what’s next for instant messaging? What would you like to see happen in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

Liam McClure writes about a broad range of topics including technology and mobile communication. If you would like to learn more about video chat for mobiles check out –

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About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 25, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. View author profile.

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  1. Alex says:

    A very interesting post! Good graphic too, I’ll share this on Pinterest 🙂

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