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Saying goodbye to AOL's instant messenger

AOL's instant messaging service - AIM to its users- will discontinue Dec. 15, 2017. Thinkstock

FARGO — American online's messenger — known as AIM to its once-loyal users — says "G2G" (got to go) and takes its final bow today after 20 years of virtually connecting people. In 1997, AIM set fire to now commonplace practice of communicating via instant messenger.

Before there was Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Skype, SnapChat or even MSN Messenger, AIM ruled the online communication world.

When it launched, more than 100 million users added their friends' creatively-crafted screen names to their ever-expanding "buddy" lists. Screen names reflected a passion or interest, paired with numerals most often reflecting a person's birth year.

Breanne Schlindwein Allmaras of Fargo says she has no idea why she picked "midnitecowgirl44" while Britta Solberg of Minneapolis says her screen name, "Cowgurl30," reflects her experience of growing up on a farm near the Wild Rice River. Nicole Welle Nere of Fargo chose "ViviAnn83" because of her friends' shared affinity for "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," an '90s sitcom starring Will Smith.

"When I went to college and got AIM, some friends referred to me and another friend (whose name was actually Phil) as 'Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian'," Welle Nere says.

Others like Anne Johnson of Moorhead selected their screen name because of their music taste. She says "Emosupremo89" reflects her interest in the "emo" music genre.

Although most people are sentimental about their screen names from yesteryear and their first experiences of instant messaging, most are still surprised that AIM hasn't been "put out of commision" a long time ago.

Jennifer Phillips of Fargo says she will miss it, even though she stopped using it three years ago when AIM discontinued their "relay call" feature. (The web-based relay service allowed people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disorder to place calls to other telephone users while using the keyboard to communicate.)

Phillips says this feature was especially helpful while traveling.

"I don't have a cell phone so having a way to text on my computer matters to me," she says. "I still use AIM with a friend who I am (still) trying to get to use Facebook Messenger."

Phillips would prefer not to use Facebook as her messaging platform, but other suitable options are not available right now.

"What I liked about AIM was that you could use a web frame so you didn't have to download it, which meant I could text from library or borrowed computers on-the-go," Phillips says.

Skype is her main messaging service, and Philips says she still can't decide if it will fill her needs because the application needs to be downloaded and takes up additional memory ... unlike AIM.

AIM's 'FYI'

According to AOL's website, there are no current plans to replace AIM. Instead, the new company "Oath" — formed by the the AOL-Yahoo merger — says it will focus on other products. After today, AIM users will no longer be able to access any of its instant messaging services, but "@aim.com" users will still able to send and receive email.

Another casualty will be AIM's buddy list. (So login and quickly copy and paste your friends' screen names now to place them in time capsules or embarrass family members during a wedding toast.)

Any data like files, images and chat history will also be deleted after today. Steps to save your chat history can be found at www.help.aol.com/articles/aim-discontinued.

When all else fails, share your #AIMmemories @Inforum on Twitter.

AIM phrases to remember

Although some word nerds may mourn the day instant messaging began to shorten and abbreviate words, many now use this shorthand as second-nature. Take a look of the unique lingo AIM first created.

• AFK: Away From Keyboard

• ASL: Age / Sex / Location

• ATM: At The Moment

• BBL: Be Back Later

• BBS: Be Back Soon

• BRB: Be Right back

• BTW: By The Way

• CUL8R / CULR: See You Later

• CTN: Can't Talk Now

• DN: Don't Know

• FTW: For The Win

• FYI: For Your Information

• G2G: Got to Go

• IDK:I Don't Know

• IMO: In My Opinion

• JIT: Just In Time

• JK: Just Kidding

• JMS: Just Making Sure

• JW: Just Wondering

• LOL: Laughing Out Loud

• LYL: Love You Lots

• NM / NVM: Nevermind

• NM: Not Much

• NP: No Problem

• OMG: Oh My Gosh

• POS / "9": Parent Over Shoulder

• PPL: People

• SN: Screen Name

• SRY: Sorry

• TMI: To Much Information

• TTFNR: Ta-Ta For Now

• TTUL8R / TTYL: Talk to You Later

• TY: Thank You

• YT: You There

• YTB: You're The Best

• WBU: What About You

• WE: Whatever

• WRUD: What Are You Doing

April Knutson

April Knutson is lifestyle-focused journalist producing stories for the Forum News Service about people, health, community issues, and services. She earned her degree in both English Literature and Mass Communications. After working as a digital marketing specialist and web design consultant for a few years, she joined Forum Communications in 2015. She grew up on a farm near Volga, S.D. Follow her on Twitter @april_knutson.

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