Skype: A Brief History
When Skype was released in 2003, it was at the frontier of a relatively unexplored portion of the Internet – VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. VOIP was first conceptualized in 1974, and Skype wasn't even around when the first Internet phone software was released by a company called VocalTec in 1995. Skype, in other words, wasn't exactly pushing technology forward when Skype was released in 2003.
But while the technology wasn't new, the way Skype deployed it absolutely was. VOIP had been around and in use for years, but its use was primarily for businesses, and leading companies like VocalTec certainly didn't give the service away from free. Skype, however, did. The Skype client to this day allows for free Skype to Skype calls, making it possible for people across the globe to communicate for free. I personally used Skype to communicate with my future wife when she was on a six month trip to Estonia. Without it, our conversations would have cost over a dollar per minute.
Since its release, Skype has added even more features, like free video chat as well as conferencing features which all multiple people to meet in either voice or video conferences. I use it almost every day to keep in touch with friends, family, and even the editors of this very website. And I can do all of this without paying a dime.