ICQ Messaging Service to Shut Down After 28 Years: A Look Back at the Groundbreaking Proto-IM Platform

San Francisco, California – After nearly three decades of operation, the iconic messaging service ICQ is set to shut down on June 26, according to its current owners. Though its popularity waned in the 2000s, ICQ played a crucial role in shaping the landscape of direct messaging and social networking in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Initially created by four Israeli computer enthusiasts as a tool to streamline communication while working on a different project, ICQ quickly gained traction through word of mouth. In an era dominated by dial-up internet connections, ICQ provided a more efficient means of messaging and chatting online, appealing to early online gaming communities and beyond.

Acquired by AOL at one point, ICQ faced stiff competition from services like AIM and MSN, eventually being overshadowed by the rise of social media platforms like MySpace and Facebook. In 2010, the messaging service found a home with Mail.ru, a major Russian internet applications provider, now known as VK. ICQ has since been maintained as a Russian alternative to Skype.

For many users, ICQ holds a special place in their hearts, with some reminiscing about the unique features of the platform. ICQ numbers, akin to phone numbers, were a badge of honor, with shorter numbers signifying early adoption. Users fondly recall how ICQ profiles facilitated connections, even leading to friendships and romances that might not have otherwise blossomed.

Among those sharing their memories is Samuel Axon, a Senior Editor, who credits ICQ for playing a pivotal role in his life. From forging connections in online gaming communities to sparking a teenage romance, ICQ left a lasting impression on many users, who fondly recall the nostalgic “uh oh!” messaging sound.

As ICQ prepares to bid farewell, it marks the end of an era for a service that paved the way for modern messaging and social networking platforms. Its legacy lives on in the memories of users who once relied on its innovative features and connectivity in a time when the internet was still in its infancy.