ICQ Finally Shutting Down

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ICQ Finally Shutting Down

Postby Andrew on Sun May 26, 2024 1:12 pm

We'll Miss You: Pioneering instant messaging program ICQ is finally shutting down after nearly 30 years (PC Gamer)

There was a time when ICQ—that's "I Seek You"—was as ubiquitous as mIRC and a good FTP program. But after nearly three decades of operation (much of it, I'm sorry to say, in obscurity), the end has finally come: A message posted on the ICQ website (via PCMag) says the software will stop operating on June 26.

It's hard to overstate just how big ICQ was at the turn of the millennium. It was released by Israeli developer Mirabilis in late 1996; I came to it in '97 by way of an in-the-know friend who breathlessly regaled me with tales of this exciting new program that let us talk to online friends anywhere, at any time—no more having to wait for your pals to show up on Undernet! Believe me, this was huge.

At one point ICQ had more than 100 million registered users, but it didn't take long for other companies to get in on the IM action, leading to ICQ's slow decline. AOL, which had acquired Mirabilis in 1998, sold it to Russian company Digital Sky Technologies—despite its decline in the West, ICQ remained popular in Russia—in 2010, at a significant loss.

A new version of the program was released in 2020, but it's been neglected since; a Techspot report says the last stable desktop release arrived in April 2023, while the mobile versions were retired in favor of current owner VK's own messenger system.

End of an era. Not surprising - if anything, the fact that it lasted this long is quite incredible - but it's still kind of sad to see another vestige of the old internet finally shutting down. If I remembered my details, I'd log in one last time for old time's sake. However, we'll always have this:

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