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Some basic rules of etiquette are enforced in most chat rooms.You are not to use abusive language, post obscene material, violate copyright laws or incite any type of violence or hatred.Just look at the earliest, successful forerunner to online chat — a program that academics invented, almost by accident, long before the birth of the World Wide Web.Talkomatic, the program’s appropriately retro name, was born out of PLATO, a computer-based education program at the University of Illinois, in 1973.(His screenname was “Clinton Pz.”) By 1997, the year AOL launched Instant Messenger as a stand-alone chat product, the company boasted an estimated 19,000 chatrooms.
In others, a form of radical, soul-baring honesty was fairly common; between the fake names, the small communities, and the hours of online contact, the idea of intimacy became “very seductive,” one user told Info World.It was primitive, by modern standards: Only five people could chat at once, and their messages displayed letter-by-letter as they typed.But at the time, Talkomatic was something of a revelation.Sure, we have Rooms now — but Rooms, despite its branding and anonymous discussion groups, has little in common with the chatrooms of yore.
And like other modern attempts to reincarnate the ‘90s chat room (Airtime, anyone?
But in 1980, Compu Serve — one of the earliest commercial Internet services — would release its own take on the chat concept, allowing more than 123,000 to sign on nightly under screennames like “Mike” and “Silver.” (Both names are, incidentally, critical to chat room history: They were, on Valentine’s Day 1983, one of the first couples to marry as a result of online chat.) Even though Compu Serve’s “CB Simulator” was a commercial service, it shared something of the pioneering quirkiness of ye Talkomatic chats of old.