Instant Messaging's Predecessors
Before instant messaging really began, in the 1960s, users on a single computer could communicate to one another. A program, Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS) manipulated a computer's time features to allow multiple users to complete tasks at more or less the same time. This feature was only an illusion, as the program scheduled times for each user and task, but allowed it to appear as though work was being completed simultaneously. This allowed users to communicate with one another.
In the 1980s, online bulletin boards became more commonly used, and the first "chat' programs began to appear. While online bulletin board systems were increasingly popular, and they allowed individuals to share recipes, files, and believes, this wasn't a medium that allowed users to interact directly with one another. PLATO was a program developed in the 1970s featuring networked computers that many students would use to chat with one another. This system evolved to become Linux/Unix's "Talk" in the 1980s and by the end of the decade and the beginning of the 1990s, another program "Quantum Link" appeared on the scene for the Commodore 64 and 128 computers.
Quantum Link (Q-Link) was a program that allowed users to dial in via modem from their home computers and interact with other Q-Link subscribers. There were games like checkers and hangman, email, chat, news, and more, as well as a rudimentary instant messaging system. The instant messaging system in Q-Link would show users each character as it would be typed. In 1991, Q-Link became America Online.
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