Instant Messaging

Sending instant messages by computer is fun and convenient. Moreover, text chatting is asynchronous, unlike voice or video. Accordingly, people need not communicate in real-time. Surprisingly, text messaging became extremely popular.

The earliest instant messaging system designed for that purpose was “Talkomatic” and “term-talk” for the PLATO system. College students David Wooley and Doug Brown created Talkomatic and term-talk, effectively inventing text messaging.

Significantly, Talkomatic took advantage of shared memory and allowed five users to simultaneously talk to one another. As each person typed, the text appeared on the screen of the others. Subsequently, term-talk worked similarly, albeit for two users at a time. One user invoked the program and entered the name of a different user, who was then notified. Thereupon, if the second user chose to accept the invitation, they would then type to one another in real-time.

Real-time text chatting spread to proprietary bulletin-board systems as they developed. Eventually, a standard evolved Instant Relay Chat, or IRC.

Subsequently, Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging came along in 1992. SMS enabled users to type messages to one another via phones. Four years later came the first peer-to-peer instant messaging client, ICQ. Since then, there are countless real-time texting applications.

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