ICQ or “I Seek You”
Probably anyone that was born in the 80s, early 90s or before then remembers ICQ. This instant messaging chat service became popular between the years 1996 and 1998 and it grew even bigger in the subsequent years, reaching its peak in 2001. ICQ was a precursor to today’s Skype or Facebook Messenger or the now defunct MSN Messenger, which enabled instant chat between two people or more.
It was very popular among the young generation, given that many of them sought to meet people online (that is where the name “I seek You” originated), from different countries in order to get to know other cultures, or sometimes also nearby areas, in order to get a date. So, in this sense, one could say that ICQ also functioned as a modern day “dating app”, such as Tinder.
It was very exciting to be able to search or seek people from other countries that could speak the same language as you (normally English) and ask them about their cultures and activities. Sometimes ICQ enabled people to make friends overseas, which was a very difficult thing for people to accomplish before the emergence of Internet. There are some funny and even endearing stories out there that one can read on the Internet, about the start of families and love stories of people from different countries that found each other through ICQ, fell in love and eventually, after months or years of enduring a long distance relationship, were able to travel and meet the “virtual love of their lives”.
Sometimes, the outcomes, however, were not as fairy tale like as it sounds. But the truth is that many people found happiness, started families and got married and moved to far away continents thanks to ICQ. ICQ’s popularity declined with the advent of Hotmail and Yahoo and the development of their instant message services, such as Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger.