Article by Greg Barrow - Last Updated: February 2nd, 2018
Sites like The-Park founded in 1994 grew to 700,000 registered members before shutting down in 2001. TalkCity is now DelphiForums and countless others still exist for nostalgic reasons rather than functional ones
Omni-Chat, with rooms like Chatterbox were incredibly popular in the 90’s for allowing users to post pictures and text with HTML code. I remember trying to figure out all the “secret” codes to get text to blink and change color. But today it is scattered with posts by people like myself going back to see what’s happened to their favorite chat.
As the chatter stated in his post there was no Facebook or smartphones, Chat Sites were the social media of the day. However, the ability to post HTML which spurred the sites growth surly played a part in its demise as people began to learn how to break the chat with the same code. The inherent vulnerabilities in allowing users to pass HTML code, caused connectivity issues amongst similar systems and forced owners to choose between continually fixing the breaks, upgrading to a newer technology or giving up altogether.
Sites like 321Chat and Chat-Avenue broke onto the scene in 2000’ and 2002’ using a Java based chat-software called DigiChat. Digichat utilized the latest Java Script technology and offered a fast and sleek, avatar and text based chat room that stood apart from everything other than behemoth companies like AOL which dominated the online market at the time. DigiChat remained the webs best chat option for about 8 years. But just as the case was for Omni-Chat, people began to figure out how to break the chat platform; this time with a higher degree of tech knowledge. The repeated breaches were too much for the DigiChat company to continue to patch and they simply stopped releasing updates or patches.
Java Script based chat rooms are becoming a thing of the past as more and more browsers are not allowing Java applets to run. This has pushed many chat site owners to other chat platforms like 123FlashChat which has recently shut down its website leaving webmaster running the software on their own when it comes to patches and updates.
Tech exploits are not the only reasons chat site close. Social deviants victimizing people online through phishing schemes and attacks on children are also to blame. For some larger chat platforms, the sporadic, disturbing oddities that occur throughout chat rooms has been a major cause of disconcert. The ability for Pedophiles to engage with children aided by the anonymity of the inter has been a major concern of larger companies fearful of a massive lawsuit.
After a long run (centuries in the virtual spectrum of time, really), the mainstream era of the online chatrooms began taking real hits around 2010, when AOL’s Instant Messenger put an end to its chat rooms; Yahoo Chat Rooms would follow suit in 2012, and the final blow would be MSN Messenger shutting down its services in China, the last place where it was still operational. Just like that, the unassuming masses had the large majority of their chat options cut off completely.
This was a response to an evolving set of needs from the average consumer, so the only people who really noticed the disappearance of the chat rooms were aficionados of the form, and that subculture had been drastically thinning for a while already.
In a growing internet, online chat rooms were the best option for mainstream virtual communication, bar none. As the internet progressed to its adolescence, however, the dynamic of chat rooms changed (the frontier virtual spaces were being progressively gentrified and monetized, and the fringe rooms were becoming exclusively disgusting), this coincided with the upcoming of new virtual domains for social networking (in the first major way with Myspace, and in the second, final way with Facebook). We’ve been seeing the overwhelming presence of chat rooms pushed further and further into a cultural corner due largely to the changing needs of the mainstream, and new technologies honoring those needs and suggesting new ones in tandem.
All of that said, today’s online playground sees social networking megagiants like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter holding the most visible real estate, while traditional online chatrooms take a quiet space by the fringe. For all dedicated nostalgists and diehard chat enthusiasts, there is certainly still much online conversational fun to be had.
In a funny twist of fate, once giants of the chat industry Yahoo and AOL have seen the success of mobile social networks like SnapChat and WhatsApp and want back in! LOL! AOL has launched AOL Desktop which allows people to access their Chat Rooms once again and Yahoo has updated their messenger app after years of letting it languish. I must admit I am torn as to how I feel about these developments. On one hand they may bring about the resurgence of chat rooms but on the other hand I hope they fail for casting off a service so many of us loved when they were on top.
Many of the chat rooms we grew up in are now gone and chat apps are not the same as chat rooms but rest assure there will always be a chat room for you at 321Chat.Com.
RIP you have been missed.
Yahoo closed it chat rooms on December 14, 2012. Just two years after AIM Chat closed. Plagued by spammers, pedophiles and dwindling numbers yahoo viewed their chatrooms more as a liability than a money maker. Yahoo attempted to send users to their Yahoo Messenger product which gave them much more control over offensive behavior. However Yahoo Messenger membership continued to fall to the point of irrelevancy. Seeing the success of apps like SnapChat, Yahoo reworked and relaunched their Yahoo Messenger App at the end of 2016 but closed it on July 17, 2018
123flashchat.com stopped responding to support tickets in February of 2015 and abruptly shut down its website in October of 2016. The popular chat software company offered chatrooms in both flash and html5 to website owners for a monthly or one time licensing fee.
The chat software is still in use on the web but each website must independently update the software as new bugs and exploits arise.
AOL was the number one way people accessed the Internet in the early 90s. However once there were more options to connect to the Internet, AOL's hold on the consumer and monopoly on chat began to break. As AOL's stock price began to tumble they looked for ways to cut cost and chatrooms were on the block. While AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) still existed the fall of AOL brought down AIM as well.
MSN Chatrooms closed in 2003, the reason given was that they were uncomfortable with the amount of pedophiles and junk emailers the sites seemed to attract. However it was more likely a financial move as chatters cost more in bandwidth than they contributed through advertisements.
MSN Messenger started in 1999 to compete against AOL's AIM messenger service. MSN shut down its messenger application in October of 2014 in an attempt to move users to Skype a property it had recently acquired.
Digichat, is a Java based chatroom software package created by DigiNet Inc, the company stopped responding to emails and tickets in 2006 and was gone by 2010. The chat platform remained popular in use until Web Browsers began to stop supporting Java Applets around 2013.
The WebChat Broadcasting System (WBS) was the first major online chat site. The WBS thrived by creating a friendly user interface and offering a wide range of rooms categorized by age, location and sexual orientation. In 1998 Infoseek bought WBS for $6.7 Million and within 6 months Infoseek was purchased by the Go Network. The Go Network shut down the WBS and attempted to guide users to their Java-based chatrooms. In 2009 a WBS replica site was created
TheGlobe.com rose to great popularity in mid 90s through their chat rooms, member generated profile pages and the flood of money that came with the company going public in 1998. TheGlobe.Com posted the largest first day gain of any IPO up to that date but was an early victim of the dot-com bubble. Just one year after going public Theglobe was in freefall and by 2001 the website had been shut down.
The park was a HTML based chat room in the mid 90s that enjoyed emense popularity very quickly. At its peek The-Park received nearly 6 million "hits" per day and like many others was out of business by 2001.
The creator of The-Park has been writing a book explaining the rise and fall of one of the first social networking site; titled "The Park Odyssey". More information about The-Park can be found at the-park.com and you can get in contact with former The-Park members at The Earth Communications Center
Omni-Chat, was often referred to as ChatterBox-- its most popular chat section on the 4-lane.com domain. Omni-Chat was unique in that it let its chatters post HTML code directly into the room. Chatters could change their font size and color as well as post links to other sites by simply typing the code into the text box. This level of access is ultimately what lead to its demise. People relentlessly spammed the chat rooms and often broke them with HTML posts that froze the room until the administrator could reset it. Today the site is still intact and about half of the rooms are functioning with the rest containing sporadic posts from visitors passing through their old digital stomping grounds.
Google Lively Chat Rooms was a short lived 3D cartoon style virtual reality chat world. Users could create their digital 3d character and move between user created 3d rooms. Google pulled the plug on Lively in December of 2008 about 6 months after its launch.
Talk City was created in 1996 and like many chat communities saw great success followed by a percipients fall. However TalkCity's close came without any notice when they simply shut down rather than continue to fight a financial case revolving around their bankruptcy.
Meebo was an instant messaging and chat service provider founded in 2005. Largely funded by its founders and investors Meebo grew in size and scope. In 2012 Meebo was acquired by Google who immediately shut down Meebo and moved their staff to work on Google+.
Woo Media was created in 2007, WooMe was a Adobe Flash based dating site that integrated video technologies with machmaking software. WooMe went from 5 employees in 2007 to 60 in 2011 when it was sold to Zoosk.
Userplane was founded in 2001, grew in size and was bought by AOL in 2006. Userplane's software powered many of the webs top dating sites and this was of more value to AOL than maintaining a user base across the web for individual chat rooms. In 2013 Userplane ended user services.
There is very little information on why Stickam closed down. They wrote a very nice blog post saying goodbye but said nothing about why. A report had come out that it was related to the amount of porn and child porn being streamed on the site but the source of that article proved to be a disgruntled worker who was later charged with unrelated crimes like fraud and murder... go figure. Sickam was founded in 2005 saw tuns of mainstream success and then closed on January 31st, 2013 and no one really knows why.
Sorry we got nothing for you. We searched and searched and can not find a single reason why this site shut down. It was up and working, things seemed to be going well and now its gone. The domain is currently for sale for $6,000.
The Palace opened in 1995 and was a graphical chat room where people would chat with avatars they could move around a user created virtual rooms called "palaces". These rooms were little more than a background images but it allowed each palace to have its own personality. The Palace stopped development when communities.com declared bankrupcy in 2001.
A1 chat rooms lost popularity in the early 2000s and the owner decided to turn the site into a personals gateway page.
Even though the UK Chatter Box website remained somewhat popular it did not generate a significant source of revenue and the owner allowed it to deteriorate until it was no longer functional. In 2013 the website went blank except for the message... "We will be back soon! Don't worry UKCB hasn't gone for good." About a year later that message was gone as well. DNS recods for ukchatterbox.co.uk show that the domain registry was renewed in 2016 until 2019.
Rounds which used to be known as 6Rounds chat murged with Kik and closed down all access to Rounds chat rooms on Feburary 2nd 2017. As per their blog post.