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Farewell, Yellow Running Man: AOL's AIM to end on Dec. 15

By Ed Adamczyk

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- AOL's Instant Messenger, among the first Internet platforms to achieve popular acceptance for desktop communications, will shut down in December, its parent company said Friday.

Verizon Communications Inc., current owners of what was once called America Online, announced Friday that the once-popular platform will soon end its run.

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AIM, as it is called, began in 1997. Its last day of use will be Dec. 15.

Michael Albers of Oath Inc., a Verizon subsidiary, reminisced in a message on Tumblr to AIM users that they may "remember how characters throughout pop culture from 'You've Got Mail' to 'Sex and the City' used AIM to help navigate their relationships. In the late 1990's, the world had never seen anything like it."

The platform encouraged Internet shorthand, like "LOL" for "laughing out loud." It introduced the concept of a "buddy list" of frequent communicators and respondents, as well as the Internet's first emoticons, 16 built-in variations of the durable Smiley Face.

Its logo and cultural icon, a cartoon mascot known as the Yellow Running Man and who signaled the user when a message was received, will be retired.

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The platform grew from 13 million users in 1997 to 65.5 million in 2000, before computer message enthusiasts went to Facebook and other social media platforms.

"AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed," Albers' announcement said in part.

Verizon bought AOL in 2015 for $4.4 billion.

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