XXX Chats

Windows 3.1 was released, making personal computers both more affordable and easier to use.And, despite our memories of the slow-dialing modems of the ’90s, connecting to the World Wide Web was faster than ever at the time.

I talked with Joe Schober, the longest-running employee at AOL and its current chief architect.

His relationship with the company started in 1988, before it was America Online.

Apparently people don’t feel constrained by interacting with the people they know — they feel comforted by it.

But what, exactly, happen to the chat rooms Parker so fondly remembers?

Schober moved from beta tester to full-time employee in 1992, when the service — now officially called America Online — went public.

The company was positioned perfectly for the onset of the Internet Age.

Around 2000, however, I found myself drawn more to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) than I did to AOL’s chat rooms.

Launched in 1997, AIM became widespread once it was made available to non-subscribers in 1998.

He recalls a “little frontier town” where you could initially recognize almost every screen name you came across.

When the main chat room filled to capacity, necessitating the creation of Lobby 2, the community celebrated. “I know for myself, personally, I found it fascinating,” says Schober.

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