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Even that number would eventually be much too small.
That requirement meant AOL's messenger would need its own code, particularly as the resources allotted to the project — technically none — would have trouble with that scale.
But together with a group of other engineers they helped take AIM from inception to dominance, then watched it fall into dormancy, unable to convince AOL management that free was the future.
Appelman joined after his time at IBM, where he worked on some of the first standards to connect computers over the Internet (through what are known as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol or TCP/IP).
Before building a messaging program for the Internet, he created something else that would eventually spawn AIM.
"They didn't have any central presence information," Appelman said.
"They didn't know anything about [the users]." Not so for AOL.