ICQ is shutting down after almost 28 years SuperNayr

Your ICQ number is finally shuffling off to the great beyond. Russian company VK, which has been the service’s steward since 2010, published a message Friday that simply reads, “ICQ will stop working from June 26th,” and implores users to switch to its other chat solutions.

ICQ was among the crop of early instant messenger services, like AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger, that allowed for real-time chats. It differed from others by assigning users a number they would use to connect to one another, as opposed to aliases or email addresses. It also had uncommon features like SMS messaging and the ability to message people who were offline.

And of course, those of us of a certain age probably remember the “Uh oh!” alert that would play when you received a message.

Three screenshots of the ICQ app for iOS.
Screenshot: The Internet Archive
ICQ, apparently in its final form on iOS.

ICQ was started in 1996 by Israeli company Mirabilis, which AOL bought in 1998. ICQ grew to 100 million registered users at one point, at least according to a 2001 release from Time Warner, which had bought AOL a year earlier in a famously doomed merger. AOL sold the service to Digital Sky Technologies, the firm that owned VK, then known as Mail.ru, in 2010.

The modern version of ICQ appeared to have worked and functioned like other messenger apps, such as WhatsApp or Telegram. Or so I gathered from a March 2023 Internet Archive snapshot of its iOS App Store listing, as the app apparently is gone from both Apple’s digital shop and Google’s Play Store (and seemingly has been for months). It seems that ICQ has already been done for some time — perhaps VK is just making it official.

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