“GET OFF THE INTERNET AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!”
Remember when you used to hear this all the time? You were probably on one of these three chat services when you incurred the wrath of a parental unit. Before there was WhatsApp and SMS, these instant messaging services were the primary way of socialising for many of us nervy ones.
In honour of all those hours we squandered away chatting with people, here's a trip down memory lane on us.
This good old chat service helped us navigate the rocky path of socialising through our awkward years set to the cacophony of sounds that grew exponentially with our social butterfly status. We even miss being annoyed by that nudge sound, though it signalled someone we were trying to ignore attempting to get our attention (QUIT BOTHERING ME). And who could forget the endless number of emoticons available?
Don’t know about you, but we never touched any of the tabs at the side. And now it's too late to ever try.
Current status: The mainstream version might be dead and buried, but its spirit lives on in Skype, when both services were merged in 2013. Go forth and find someone to Skype.
More after the break...
What would be your most significant aural memory of ICQ? Is it that Teletubby-preceding uh-oh which signalled when somebody new came online or the train sound that accompanied your signing in?
Also equally memorable are that ICQ numerical handle that was too long to remember and the petal-colouring of the ICQ flower that always seemed to take too long to register a successful log-on.
Current status: If you’re interested in revisiting the memory of ICQ chatting, you can download the latest versions (including a mobile one) here. Be prepared - you might find it a very lonely place.
While virtually silent, mIRC still deserves an honourable mention here with the hours of virtual socialising it provided us in our impressionable years. Heck, it might very well be the first time and place we were introduced to hashtags and newsfeeds.
Compared to the other two, mIRC was perhaps the most simplistic (remember, a/s/l?), but still provided loads of entertainment in terms of the channels (#hashtaghaters) and the limited interactions that were no less graphic and violent (/slaps Ben around a bit with a large trout).
Current status: Believe it or not, mIRC has actually outlived MSN Messenger. Download it here to keep the dream alive.