ICQ Will Shut Down On June 26 This Year

In many ways, ICQ has always been a bit of a curiosity. It was one of the first major instant messenger clients of the 1990s. It saw broad uptake alongside the likes of AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger. Yet, it outlasted both of them despite not being attached to an industrial juggernaut like AOL or Microsoft. After 27 years, however, it seems that the last petal will drop, with the shutdown of ICQ announced on the ICQ website for June 26, 2024.

Originally launched by an Israeli company, Mirabilis, in June of 1996, it took the Internet by storm, leading to AOL buying Mirabilis in June of 1998. Under the wing of AOL, ICQ kept growing its user base until it was sold to Digital Sky Technologies (now VK, which operates Mail.ru) in 2010. Around this time, the likes of Facebook and Google, with their own messaging solutions, came onto the scene, leaving ICQ to flounder. Ultimately, ICQ found a new home in the Russian market as a mobile messaging system until its imminent shutdown. Users are urged to move to the VK Messenger instead.

The demise of ICQ obviously led to a blast of nostalgia on sites like Hacker News, even though it has lost relevance in the West for many years. We’re sad to see this chapter end and will mourn the demise of our UINs (RIP, 61007952) along with our fellow compatriots in the usual IRC channels.

This is what happens when you depend on the grid. Going off the grid doesn’t have to look homemade, either.

29 thoughts on “ICQ Will Shut Down On June 26 This Year

    1. I somehow quite randomly ended up getting on ICQ fairly early in its release, but I remember that not long after, there was serious cache in having a five digit ICQ number.

  1. The current incarnation of ICQ has little in common with what it was originally. At some point – protocol was overhauled to something http-based + it client got changed and it was no longer sleek and fast.

    1. I too had a 7 digit number. I remember communicating with someone over email and he asked what’s your icq number? I responded my “what” number? And the rest was history.

      I didn’t realize it was still alive or that it had such a history of being bought and sold…and certainly not where it ended up! At one point, maybe a decade ago, I revived my number just to see if it worked. It did. (I even still remembered my ancient password for it!).

      I guess it’s death is a good thing as it shows people what happens when “apps” (it doesn’t really fit but…) go to authoritarian countries (which to those who don’t know, this is not a synonym for dictatorships, instead it’s the antonym of libertarian – the opposite side of the vertical axis of the political plane). They die. Doesn’t mean I feel a bit sad over it’s death, but technically, based on its ownership, it actually died a long time ago.

      1. I have a 6 digit number, I think I got it in 95 or 96. Used it heavily in early high school until msn messenger, yahoo messenger, & aim came along and it slowly got replaced.

        Fast forward to 2006 and I’m working a help desk job as a temp & I installed it on my work computer out of boredom. It turned out a lot of Brazilians and Chinese used it, and the search function let them find people in other countries. I would get random messages from people all over. I’m still friends with a few of them to this day; a girl down in Rio I visited a bunch of times and a priest in Glasgow.

  2. 6 digit here (vague memories of having 5 digit before even before that but at the time it wasn’t anything special and likely I forgot the password and signed up again :)

    Saying that must have been a good few years since I logged in. QIP was a good client through the 2010s.

  3. It’s sad. I haven’t used it for a long time though. I remember meeting someone on Napster and we added each other on ICQ. He was a really cool dude and I used to talk to him every day for years. One day my computer refused to boot and I had to reinstall Windows. After that I found out I couldn’t login to ICQ anymore.

  4. 7 digits, starting with 100. It was always open on my desktop, and I have a dear friend from those days even to today. I got nostalgic about a month ago and was surprised to see it still alive, but then saw info about mail.ru and alleged terrible illegal activities on the platform and knew I couldn’t go home again

  5. I had 7-digit one, long time ago. I think, I got it in 1998, with My first PC. Man, I fooled around with ICQ sounds. I gradually moved to Skype, until era of Whatsapp have begun. Now I ‘m using a bunch of messengers, but there’s always a place for that uh-oh sound!!

  6. I haven’t thought about ICQ in years. I remember my brother suggesting it because he didn’t have AOL and used his connection at college. I was curious if it was still around, but not enough to bother looking it up.

    I had 3 different numbers, but only remember 1 of them. Reconnected with a friend a few years ago. Then, she disappeared after her sister died.

  7. I still have pidgin running my 6 digit ICQ. None of the folks I knew back in the day have shown up on it in over a decade. A little nostalgia, but no big loss IMHO.

  8. I signed up in the mid 90s and used it into the early 2000s. Towards the end I think I started using it with Trillian, so I could combine my AIM, Yahoo, ICQ, MSN Messenger, into one place. That’s something I miss about the earlier days of the commercialized internet – not having to use the walled garden’s software to use the walled garden. RIP ICQ!

  9. 6 digit here. Ah rats those were some fun days. I quickly got over IRC thankfully. I was a bit late to the game and had already burned out during bbs days apparently. Still, it was fun to see those chat clients and meet new people from time to time. Most of my friends at that point were still average joes and gave very few shits about computers or linking them together outside of seeing boobies on dialup. I recall using AOL, MIRC, CheetahChat, and ICQ was kind of a godsend at that point iirc. I quickly got into chatbots at that point, found turboprolog and the rest is still internet history. I went on to find virtual 3d worlds and that was even better for me but the current time used basal html to do the jerb. Ah memories tho! We were mostly babies then and everyone had such high hopes for the “information superhighway” lol. I spent way more time on usenet than anything else as most of the web was grayscale holding pages with the company name and FAQs lol. The early migrated databases and getting answers in forums from the actual creators was priceless info. I would say, “then came the wolves…” but they have always been out there. It was more like “here comes Aunt Barb from Indiana” and “Catherine loooves the Offspring and Depeche Mode (but only pre-rehab Gahan)” and “Buy this internal antenna for your cellphone to boost signal” and it still doles out information, it is just buried under a pile of ephemera. Like a set of encyclopedias buried under dirty clothes, Del Taco wrappers, and scratched up CDs in a closet of their room in their parents house they left 20 years ago. These days I long for the simplicity of the old web. So many useless ads, search engines churning out incredibly biased results, people scrubbing the internet history with bots, and wikipedia with many articles still needing proper citation and updates decades later, and a whole host of absolute wankers that think they are clever for coming up with a browser plugin that does nothing but nets them 3 cents everytime it is loaded (and yet they are “better” than most of us because millions. It is like going to the mall to buy groceries. Sorry, apparently I still have some feelings about the whole situation lol.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.