Later, in the mid 1990's, the internet really began to take off. This brought the IM's history to pretty much what we see today. The first company to achieve the goal of bringing instant messaging to the world was ICQ. Then quickly behind that, you have the start up of America Online's version of an instant messenger (AIM). ICQ would eventually go on to be awarded two patents for IM, listed to them by the U.S. Patent Office. Unfortunately for ICQ, by this time they were already owned and operated by AOL, which was the bigger company then. While all this was going on, other big named companies were beginning to create their own form of IM. These companies were IBM, Excite, MSN, and Yahoo. These companies were able to create their own IM by using different protocols. This was a sad day in IM's history for many of its users. Because all the companies were using their own protocol, you would have to download and run multiple client applications to connect to different networks. The barrier that separates these different servers is one that is still around today.
IM's history is still being written today. They are in the process of adding new things to the foundation of IM. Most recently, one of the features being added on to many networks is video and web conferencing. Also, many networks are starting to carry voice over IP (also known as VoIP). Of course, it is not stopping there. You can even add desktop sharing, IPTV, or event IPRadio to this ever growing list to IM functions. I am sure that as time goes on, IM networks will only continue to grow and add new possibilities to their servers. This is no surprise to me, because for a concept to be willing to grow, it must be willing to change. This holds true to the internet and the many things we use on the internet including, but not limited to, email, instant messaging, and web cameras. As they continue to expand the horizons, users of these products come up with new and creative ways to use these services, some good and some bad. This is okay because this holds true to all services that are not all used as intended.