From ICQ to AIM to WhatsApp: The Rise and Fall of Instant Messenger Apps (Infographic) IM apps have 4ever altered how we communicate. Countless messaging tools have come and gone in the 18 years since they first debuted. Which ones will stand the test of time?

By Kim Lachance Shandrow

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


BION (believe it or not), instant messengers (IMs) have been around for nearly two decades already. AAMOF (as a matter of fact), the very first IM tool -- a chat app for PCs -- debuted in 1996. Cue The Wayback Machine: It was called ICQ, short for I Seek You.

IM apps have come a long way since, giving rise to a whole new digital convo shorthand, endless TMIs, LOLs and LMAOs included. The the following infographic, care of, briefly tracks the history of IM services.

Related: Top 10 Apps For Instant Messaging (Infographic)

From the genre's humble "buddy list" beginnings to today's top trending mobile messaging apps, like Skype and WhatsApp, it's been a bit of a bumpy ride. (Oddly, there's no mention of Kik. WTH?)

Take a trip down IM memory lane below.

Click to Enlarge+
 From ICQ to AIM to WhatsApp: The Rise and Fall of Instant Messenger Apps (Infographic)

Related: Should Your Business Use Instant Messenging?

Kim Lachance Shandrow

Former West Coast Editor

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper,, and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


4 Ways to Bring Your Team Back From the Brink of Innovation Extinction

Innovation often seems constrained by not enough time and resources — but really, it's a lack of playfulness that prevents our best ideas from emerging.


Want Employees Back in the Office? What Leaders Are (Still!) Getting Wrong About This Ask

For leaders facing the tricky task of getting employees back to the office, here are four communications strategies to soften the blow.

Business News

Megyn Kelly Is Returning to Primetime Television

The controversial correspondent will moderate the fourth and final Republican primary debate on Wednesday.

Business News

McCormick's Prediction for 2024's Flavor of the Year Just Dropped, But It May Be Unfamiliar to Some

The spice brand has released a yearly report for Flavor of the Year since 2000.


If You Want People to Follow You, Stop Being a Boss — 8 Steps to Truly Effective Leadership

Understand the key differences and embark on the journey from boss to leader with these eight vital steps. This article unveils how to inspire and lead teams with passion and purpose.