AIM shutting down: AOL's Instant Messenger to sign off

TTYL, Instant Messenger. 

After 20 years of service, AOL said it is discontinuing its pioneering Instant Messenger chat platform.

An article on AOL's website posted Friday says AOL Instant Messenger will be discontinued on Dec. 15. AOL says it's shutting down the program because its focus is "on building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products."

AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, was an iconic instant messaging service, known for its yellow man icon and buddy lists that allowed customers to see which of their friends were online. Yet consumers have shifted away from AOL as well as AIM, relying instead on texting on smartphones, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. 

"If you were a 90's kid, chances are there was a point in time when AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was a huge part of your life," wrote Michael Albers, vice president of communications product at Oath, in a blog post. Oath is the new brand for the combined AOL and Yahoo. "You likely remember the CD, your first screenname, your carefully curated away messages, and how you organized your buddy lists."

He added, "The way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed. As a result we've made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017."

After that date, users won't be able to sign in.

AOL Instant Messenger was wildly popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s and claimed more than 100 million registered users in 2001. Its popularity as a communication tool waned amid the rise of text messaging, Google Chat and social networking sites.