A press release from 1997 promotes a calendar of events that included an online chat with each of the Spice Girls and a downloadable audio greeting from Oprah Winfrey (in honor of Mother’s Day).
Others weren’t so impressed: “Any performance skills you have go out the window,” complained comedian Jay Leno in a 1995 Now, some twenty years later, the once-vibrant chatroom communities of AOL have nearly disappeared, but they are still there … About 1,500 people can be counted in all of AOL’s public chatrooms today, a number that in the ‘90s wouldn’t have even matched a large “auditorium”-style room where celebrities would hold court.
That was the 1990s, and Riccardi was into grunge and metal music, video games, and computers.
He’d chat about Nirvana, search for guitar tabs, trade shareware, and find opponents for . That year, AOL Instant Messenger launched, born out of the Buddy List feature in AOL.
“It was really cool, because even if your parents were in the next room, they couldn’t hear what you were talking about because you’re typing on your keyboard.”At AOL’s peak, more than 100 million AOL screen names existed, and users spent over a million hours chatting a year.
Of course, celebrities were involved in this new way to connect with the fans.
With AOL, users could get information from the White House and “even send the president electronic mail, known as e-mail, if they want.”Angelique Weger, a 36-year-old front-end developer, recalls using chatrooms in middle school.
She would spend time roleplaying as a medieval sorceress on the Red Dragon Inn sci-fi/fantasy chatroom and meeting teens from across the country in Teen Chat.“I really liked the sense of just being represented and just being understood by my words,” Weger tells “There wasn’t any sort of physical representation of yourself.
And yes, there are people — unsure about Tinder — looking for love.ike Riccardi would spend hours in chatrooms hosted by America Online as a teenager.When he heard the sound of a door creeping open ring from the speakers of his desktop computer, he’d perk up because the sound meant a friend was online, and they were free to chat.Along with this product came the away message, buddy icons, a personal profile, and eventually voice chat, file transfer, and chat bots.“It was a different time, because in the ‘90s, no one gave their real personal information on the internet,” says the now 35-year-old web developer.At the pinnacle of AOL, the company had 35 million paying subscribers. When it was still called Quantum Computer Services, the company debuted chatrooms.“That was a huge focus of the service,” Joe Schober, who was a beta tester at Quantum Computing Services in the late 1980s and officially worked for AOL from 1992 to 2014, tells Regular chat rooms could hold up to 23 people.