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Harris had been a programmer at a small web browser company purchased by AOL.
But together with a group of other engineers they helped take AIM from inception to dominance, then watched it fall into dormancy, unable to convince AOL management that free was the future.
But if AIM was to be a standalone program, it needed to run off some equipment.
"AIM was sort of the prototypical skunkworks project," Bosco said.
Millions of subscribers paid AOL monthly for the ability to sign online. The "You've got mail" notification became the sound Americans associated with their first email accounts, as well as a movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Barry Appelman, Eric Bosco and Jerry Harris worked at AOL in the 1990s and early 2000s as engineers on AOL Instant Messenger, known commonly as AIM. Appelman and Bosco programmed in the Unix operating system.
AOL’s infrastructure had trouble handling the transition.
When we think about the spectacular collapses of once untouchable Internet properties, companies like My Space and come to mind.
The rise and fall of AOL Instant Messenger rivals them all.
AOL had become a behemoth in the early days of the consumer Internet.
It handled around 180,000 simultaneous connections. Bosco said the goals for AOL's messenger were set much higher: 5 million simultaneous users.