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The chat product, called People Connection, had a variety of rooms for people interested in such topics as genealogy and strategy games.Schober remembers a ticker dubbed “Network News,” a kind of virtual community newsletter that would let people know when certain chat rooms had a special guest or were discussing certain topics.The late ’90s, according to Schober, was when chat rooms hit their peak.Just how powerful was America Online during this time? This is the era that many people, myself included, remember most vividly.
Chat rooms were available to AIM users until 2010, when AOL announced, “Since usage of AIM Chat has declined significantly in recent months, our focus has moved to other products.” Today, chat services such as Facebook Messenger and Google Talk (a.k.a. “I don’t think people have necessarily stopped using them — there are just different ways of expressing the same concept now,” says Schober.
Gchat) are popular, but chat rooms as they existed in the 1990s are mostly a relic. “Now people on Facebook will start a thread on someone’s Timeline and really start interacting with one another.
It’s a different visual format, it’s organized differently, but its really the same concept we had around the chat room.” Yes, that’s true, but to me the experience just different.
“The BBS world, it tended to be a one-line experience — you were the sole user of the service, you could send email, you could leave messages, but it wasn’t interactive in real-time in the same way.
So the experience of going into a chat room and getting a response a couple of seconds later from someone who was in the same chat room was just really cool.” Slowly, the service grew, expanding to support DOS and eventually Windows.