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You never knew quite what, or who, you would find in a Compuserve chat — or, later, a chat on AOL (c. AOL’s chief architect and longest-serving employee, Joe Schober, once described the earliest AOL chatrooms as “little frontier towns”: small and unpolished, perhaps, but pioneering — like a spark in the big Internet void.
If the Internet was an uncharted wilderness, however, the ‘90s were its Gold Rush.
Facebook chose an odd time to launch Rooms, its homage to the classic ’90s chatroom.
AOL’s Instant Messenger, perhaps the icon of the anonymous instant-messaging age, quietly killed off its chat rooms in 2010.
In one early “channel,” described by Info World in 1984, users did nothing but speak Old English and roleplay as kings and maidens.