ICQ

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ICQ LLC
ICQ.svg
Initial releaseNovember 1996 (1996-11)
Stable release8.2.6901 / 28 December 2013; 2 months ago (2013-12-28)
Operating systemWindows, Linux, Mac OS X, Web, mobile phones
TypeInstant messaging client
LicenseProprietary (Adware)
WebsiteOfficial website
 
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ICQ LLC
ICQ.svg
Initial releaseNovember 1996 (1996-11)
Stable release8.2.6901 / 28 December 2013; 2 months ago (2013-12-28)
Operating systemWindows, Linux, Mac OS X, Web, mobile phones
TypeInstant messaging client
LicenseProprietary (Adware)
WebsiteOfficial website

ICQ LLC is an instant messaging computer program that was first developed and popularized by the Israeli company Mirabilis, which was acquired by America Online (AOL), and since April 2010 owned by Mail.Ru Group.

The first version of the program was released in November 1996 and ICQ became the first of the so-called "instant messaging" services, later patenting the technology.[1] IRC significantly predated ICQ but was never referred to as an "instant messenger" although all messages are instantly sent. The most significant difference was that ICQ was 1-on-1 chat only whereas IRC facilitates both individual and group chat. ICQ gained the ability to conduct group chat significantly later but its implementation is primitive compared to that of IRC, notably requiring a single user to create the group chat and invite others to join, as opposed to IRC wherein any user can choose to join a chat channel that is not designated as private. AOL acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998, for $287 million in cash up front and $120 million in additional payments over three years.[2]

In 2001, ICQ had over 100 million accounts registered.[3] In April 2010, AOL sold ICQ to Digital Sky Technologies for $187.5 million.[4]

History[edit]

Mirabilis was first established in June 1996 by five Israelis: Yair Goldfinger, Sefi Vigiser, Amnon Amir, Arik Vardi, and Arik's father Yossi Vardi.[5] They recognized that many people were accessing the internet through non-UNIX operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, and those users were unfamiliar with established chat technologies e.g. IRC.[citation needed]

The technology Mirabilis developed for ICQ was distributed free of charge. The technology's success encouraged AOL to acquire Mirabilis on June 8, 1998, for $287 million up front and $120 million in additional payments over three years.[2] At the time, this was the highest price ever paid to purchase an Israeli technology company.[citation needed]

ICQ's management changed at the end of 2003. Under the leadership of the new CEO, Orey Gilliam,[6] who also assumed the responsibility for all of AOL's messaging business in 2007, ICQ resumed its growth and turned into a highly profitable company, and one of AOL's most successful businesses. Eliav Moshe replaced Gilliam in 2009 and became ICQ's managing director.[7]

ICQ was used to build AT&T's first web platform in the U.S. by Software.com founders Adarbad Master and Keyur Patel.[citation needed]

Features[edit]

Additional products[edit]

ICQ provides all users additional services and content products:

  1. ICQ TV—An online video magazine. The magazine broadcasts content for teens 24/7.
  2. ICQ SIM Card (together with United Mobile)—A SIM card that enables users traveling across Europe to use their cellular telephone while paying a discount price.
  3. ICQ Game Center—By clicking a button in the contact list, the game center is available for users. A games platform that enables the user to play with and/or against other users.
  4. ICQ2Go—A web instant messaging option for users who cannot download the program onto their computer (for various reasons, like firewall for instance). ICQ2Go uses a ‘port-80’ browser for this type of communication feature.
  5. ICQ for Mac (Beta)—Released in February 2010, a version of the client that was developed using the Adobe AIR platform, making it usable on additional operating systems which support the AIR runtime, such as Linux.[8]

Also, users can choose and select their own avatar for their profile page. In this way, they can protect their privacy.

UIN[edit]

ICQ users are identified by numbers called UIN, distributed in sequential order. The UIN was first invented by Mirabilis, as the user name assigned to each user upon registration. The meaning is either Universal Internet Number or Unified Identification Number. Issued UINs started at number "10000" (5 digits) and every user receives a UIN when first registering to ICQ. As of ICQ6, users are also able to log in using the specific e-mail address they associated with their UIN during the registration process. Unlike other instant messaging software or web applications, on ICQ the only permanent user info is the UIN, although it is possible to search for other users using their associated e-mail address or any other detail they have made public (by updating it in the public profile). In addition, the user can change all of his or her personal information, including screen name and e-mail address, without having to re-register. Since 2000, ICQ and AIM users are able to add each other to their contact list without the need for any external clients. As a response to UIN theft or sale of attractive UINs, ICQ started to store email addresses previously associated to a UIN.[9] As such, UINs that are stolen can sometimes be reclaimed. This applies only if (since 1999 onwards) a valid primary email address was entered into the user profile.

Development history[edit]

First versions[edit]

ICQ was developed in 1996 by Mirabilis. The company was founded by four young Israelis: Yair Goldfinger, Arik Vardi, Sefi Vigiser and Amnon Amir. After AOL bought it, it was managed by Ariel Yarnitsky and Avi Shechter.

America Online acquired Mirabilis on June 8, 1998, for $407 million ($287 million in cash and $120 million over a three-year period based on growth performance levels).

Later versions[edit]

Criticism[edit]

According to security analyst Jeffrey Carr, use of ICQ may cause security problems because it was purchased by Russian investment company Digital Sky Technologies. ICQ has fallen out of fashion in US and Britain, but it remains popular in Eastern Europe and Russia. Carr says the new ownership may be used by Russia's powerful secret service, the FSB (formerly the KGB) since Russian law, like the American law, requires ICQ to open its logs whenever they want.[10] Similar concerns apply to other instant messengers (see Skype security, YIM SPIM, AIM vulnerabilities etc.).

Spam[edit]

ICQ is often used for distribution of unwanted advertisement and spam.[11] This is facilitated by ICQ's use of usernames consisting of multiple-digit numbers.

Privacy and copyright[edit]

When accepting "ICQ Terms Of Service — Acceptable Use Policy" (2000), a user gives all the copyright in the posted information to ICQ Inc.[12] This implies that ICQ Inc. may publish, distribute etc. any messages sent through the system that could be meant to be private:

"You agree that by posting any material or information anywhere on the ICQ Services and Information you surrender your copyright and any other proprietary right in the posted material or information. You further agree that ICQ Inc. is entitled to use at its own discretion any of the posted material or information in any manner it deems fit, including, but not limited to, publishing the material or distributing it."

ICQ accounts may be deleted by user.[13] The web page no longer functions, giving "Invalid ICQ UIN, email address, or password. Please fill out the form again" error.

Pressure on alternative clients[edit]

AOL pursued an aggressive policy regarding alternative ("unauthorized") ICQ clients.

"Системное сообщение

ICQ не поддерживает используемую вами версию. Скачайте бесплатную авторизованную версию ICQ с официального web-сайта ICQ.

System Message

The version you are using is not supported by ICQ. Download a free authorized ICQ version from ICQ’s official website."

On icq.com[16] there is an "important message" for Russian-speaking ICQ users: "ICQ осуществляет поддержку только авторизированных версий программ: ICQ Lite и ICQ 6.5." ("ICQ supports only authorized versions of programs: ICQ Lite and ICQ 6.5.")

Clients[edit]

AOL's OSCAR network protocol used by ICQ is proprietary and using a third party client is a violation of ICQ Terms of Service, nevertheless a number of third-party clients have been created by using reverse-engineering and protocol descriptions. These clients include:

AOL supported clients include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]