Original Instant Messaging App, ICQ, Turns 20


One of the Internet’s first instant messengers, ICQ, celebrates its 20th birthday this week.

Two decades after being released as an open source program, ICQ hits this 20-year milestone.

It was originally developed by Israeli students in November 1996 as a simple platform for communicating, with each user being assigned a unique ID numberĀ and bare bones features we see on messaging platforms of today. A year later, AOL followed the ICQ blueprint by launching its own messaging service, dubbed AIM.

In 1998, AOL would acquire the parent company, Mirabilis, for $287 million in up front cash, alongside an addition $120 million over three years.

ICQ peaked in 2001, with more than 100 million accounts registered.

While its popularity in the U.S. and UK have heavily declined over the past decade, ICQ remains popular in Russia.

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