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In another life, before a disastrous acquisition of Time Warner, it brought the Internet into the homes of Americans and controlled the program that popularized online messaging without ever really meaning to.It would be easier to call AIM ahead of its time if it had not become so wildly popular almost immediately after its launch."They didn't have any central presence information," Appelman said."They didn't know anything about [the users]." Not so for AOL.Necessity, being the mother of invention, helped lead to what is now a near given on the web — the buddy list. AOL still charged an hourly fee to be logged onto its service.With most systems of that era, an administrator might be able to tell people were logged on, but they didn't know who.Millions of subscribers paid AOL monthly for the ability to sign online. The "You've got mail" notification became the sound Americans associated with their first email accounts, as well as a movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
The rise and fall of AOL Instant Messenger rivals them all."Every single server in production was crashing because of the load," Bosco said. He joined a team that, unbeknownst to AOL executives, had begun to explore the idea of a messenger that existed beyond the "garden walls" of AOL."A small group of us, basically four, spent three weeks in a room trying to design what the system would look like," Bosco (below) said.But if AIM was to be a standalone program, it needed to run off some equipment."AIM was sort of the prototypical skunkworks project," Bosco said.
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Due to the way its system was constructed, AOL knew not just that people were logged on but which users they were.