Launched by Israeli company Mirabilis back in late 1996, the ICQ chat client (a play on I Seek You) gained notoriety as a chat solution outside America Online's closed environment. In addition to real-time texting, it allowed users to transfer files from one to another, an early form of peer-to-peer that was limited to two people. Game developers and publishers quickly took to the tool, making it easy for site administrators and clever fans to send quick questions about development updates and other info.
America Online soon came in and acquired Mirabilis for $407 million. However, the purchase changed the face of ICQ, making it less of a power user's tool with softer, rounded edges, snazzy graphics, and an overall feel of commercialization. Although the ICQ portion of America Online's messaging business eventually saw growth by 2007, the company recently sold ICQ to Digital Sky Technologies back in April. What do we miss about ICQ? It's hardcore look and feel.