05 December 2016
Today marks the 20th birthday of one of the internet's most primary chat apps - ICQ ("I Seek You"). It was designed and published by four high school students from Israel on November 15, 1996, and was quite simple. In fact, you could only exchange text messages. Customers had to connect to the UDP 4000 port on the icq.mirabilis.com server.
In the following year, it had versions available for Windows 95, 3.1 and Macs (probably System 7). Each user was assigned a six digit number at first, more later, for ease of operation. Contact list could be expanded by adding the user digits you'd add via IRC, BBS, AOL or simply by asking the users at school. The chat app was quickly popular as it had an open-architecture, displayed the little status icons at the top and even had catchy slogans like "Everybody Everywhere."
Mirabilis, the company which formed the ICQ and its technologies were later bought by AOL for a whopping $287 million - an amount quite a huge one in the late 90s. In 2001, it had more than 100 million users.
The encryption was improved considerably in the later years. With the new protocols, ICQ also embedded phone calls, contact requests etc. Later it was developed for Symbian, Android, iOS, Linux and even for newer Windows versions. Later in 2010, ICQ was purchased by Mail.Ru Group and just after a year, they issued the seventh version that was integrated with Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube, Flikr and Mail.Ru services.
The latest version of ICQ is the 10.0.10242 that was released on January 18, 2016. You can send instant text messages, make phone calls, do group chats, send short voice messages and even make video calls. We wish ICQ a happy twentieth and hope to see much more in the future.