The Top 16 Reasons Why AIM Was The Best Chat Client Ever

Before Facebook Chat made instant messaging nothing short of punishment, AOL’s Instant Messenger was the way that people used to communicate. Unfortunately, it’s gone out of style. But, when everyone used it, it was amazing. Here’s why. posted on

1. Buddy Icons

View this embed ›

The proto-profile pic, a buddy icon was the picture you chose to form your online identity.

Sites like BADASSBUDDY helped you get a laugh by offering off-color, politically incorrect .GIFs.

2. Warning

If a friend was sending you too many messages, or you hated them, you could make them unable to send messages to anyone, just by pressing that powerful lightning bolt. Now that’s power.

3. Blocking

If someone got mad at you, they could block you, or make it impossible for you to IM them.

Grounds for blocking include “being weird,” “pressing the warn button for no reason,” and “sexual harassment.”

Fortunately, there was always a way around a block: making another screen name!

4. It Wasnt’t — And Still Isn’t — A Steaming POS

AIM, which predates Facebook Chat by 11 years, continues to be the most consistent way of communicating with friends. Every once in a while you’ll see a “AIM - OSCAR login error,” but those are few and far between.
I’m sure MSN, Yahoo, and ICQ are just as good, but would you rather choose those, or AMERICA Online Instant Messanger?

5. Smarterchild

A robot that you could chat with, smarterchild would be able to carry on a conversation with you, no matter how early 2000s his technology seemed.

6. DeadAIM

This addon made the dreams of tabbed browsing and transparent windows realities. Long live DeadAIM.

7. Subprofiles (Visitor Logs!)

Subprofiles was an add-on to make your regular profile, which was already the best, even more amazing. It included visitor logs that let you see who was checking out your subprofile, and let you create your own webpages to put things like poignant song lyrics (ex. Yellowcard), inside jokes, and quizzes about your life.

Being able to know how many people visit my profile, and who those people are is something that I still crave from today’s “advanced,” social networks.

8. Buddy Lists

Best way to sort your friends: “Buddies,” “Family,” “Co-Workers,” and my own creation: “Homies.”

If you were a “Homie,” we were set for life. Until I grew up and forgot you.

9. Away Messages

The OG Facebook statuses. These babies let the world know where you were, how long it would be until you came back, and which Bowling For Soup lyrics summarized how you were feeling about your crush that day.

Also, if you put “%n” in an away message, when someone viewed it, their screen name would replace that symbol.

Ex. “Sorry you’re unlovable, %n.” becomes “Sorry you’re unlovable, animalconfessions8.”

10. Simple Smileys

These smileys weren’t overly complicated. Everything made sense. It was digestible.

11. Stock Ticker

In the event that you were looking for some extra cash on top of that allowance, AIM even had a stock ticker at the bottom of its buddy list.

12. Amazing Sounds

These are the sounds that I didn’t know I missed. I remember trying to figure out in middle school how to shut them off so my parents wouldn’t know I was online, but I’d turn them on during the weekends. The door slamming. The sound of a new IM. Or, if I was lucky, the sound of four, maybe five new IMs as I signed on. But that would only happen during peak hours (7:00PM-10:00PM).

This song isn’t particularly listenable, but the first 15 seconds are a nice trip down memory lane.

13. Fonts

On AIM, you had the ability to choose the font and color that your buddies saw when they received your IMs.

It doesn’t sound like much, but the day your friend that exclusively typed in red Chiller font abruptly changed to jungle green and Comic Sans wasn’t one that you’d soon forget.

14. DRAMA!

When AIM introduced a feature that let you know when your buddy was typing, it seemed like a godsend. Unfortunately, the developers didn’t account for the times that someone would accidentally type in a blank space. They would be doing nothing and their buddy would see “[the clumsy idiot’s screen name] has entered text.”

I’ve lost my mind at least four times, deciding whether or not the person on the other end was actually saying they had feelings for me, or thought “we are too good of friends to be something more.”

15. Chat Rooms

There were two kinds of chat rooms: public [where just about anyone could be talking about anything], and private [friends only]. Don’t tell my mom, but sometimes I snuck into the former.

16. Screen Names

You were given up to 16 characters to make the best name that represented you. Mine was superkid591. When I forgot the password for that, I made superteen591.There was also charmelon [sic], an incorrect spelling of my favorite Pok�mon at the time. Basically, I was a genius.

SNs allowed for anonymity. You could spend hours talking to someone that, by the end of the conversation, you could have zero idea of who they are, what they looked like, or where they were from.

It’s amazing to think about how much of my generation’s identity was shaped by AIM. We took every fragment of personalization that the medium allowed for, and did our best to make it our own. They were simpler times…

Add your favorite old AIM SNs in the comments!

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