In 2003, MSN axed many of its chatrooms across Europe, Asia and Latin America.Over the course of the next decade, in light of plummeting usage, increased scrutiny over child solicitation and other unpleasantness, and competition from mobile and video chat, AOL and Yahoo would do the same. , we aspire to make the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining,” chirped Yahoo! “Sometimes, this means we have to make tough decisions — like closing down features that we feel aren’t adding enough value for you.” In other words, the market had spoken: The time of the chatroom had passed.) it seems to lack that critical quality that made early AIM, Yahoo Messenger and MSN fun: the edge of quirkiness, transgression and inventiveness.

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And the places that remained on the fringes were categorically gross: full of spam and sludge and a/s/l-style solicitation, a far cry from the supportive communities of the late ‘80s.

Combine that with the advent of new Internet technologies like DSL (which made AOL’s subscription model obsolete) and new paradigms for online social networking (think Friendster, Myspace and later, Facebook) and the chatroom’s demise was obvious, if not imminent, by the early aughts.

(His screenname was “Clinton Pz.”) By 1997, the year AOL launched Instant Messenger as a stand-alone chat product, the company boasted an estimated 19,000 chatrooms.

Users spent more than a million hours chatting each day.

is undergoing a major makeover,” enthused one 1997 trend piece in the Irish Times.

Chatrooms were showing up in business software packages, such as Lotus and Oracle.

In one early “channel,” described by Info World in 1984, users did nothing but speak Old English and roleplay as kings and maidens.

In others, a form of radical, soul-baring honesty was fairly common; between the fake names, the small communities, and the hours of online contact, the idea of intimacy became “very seductive,” one user told Info World.

Just look at the earliest, successful forerunner to online chat — a program that academics invented, almost by accident, long before the birth of the World Wide Web.