So long ICQ, the iconic ‘90s messaging platform that’s shutting after almost 30 years


At its peak in 2001, ICQ had 100 million registered users. — Image by freepik

In the early days of the Internet, before the rise of social media and mobile messaging apps, there was ICQ.

Launched in 1996, ICQ, which is a play on the phrase "I seek you," became one of the most popular ways to communicate online, with over 100 million registered users at its peak in 2001.

Now on its homepage sits a short notice stating that the service will “stop working” on June 26, and points users to other services belonging to ICQ’s Russia-based owner VK.

Even those who didn’t use the service back then will recognise the iconic “uh-oh” sound effect that played whenever a new message came in.

At the time, ICQ included a collection of features that have become a mainstay in the messaging apps of today, such as file-sharing and group chats. The service even received a refreshed app back in 2020 called ICQ New, however, this would not stop its eventual shutdown.

The instant messaging platform joins the list of other now-defunct old-school messaging services that have come and gone since the dotcom boom, including Aim, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger, among others.

But for many, the platform was a taste of what the growingly connected future had in store, so farewell to ICQ and thanks for the memories.

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